Migraine Headaches: Diagnosis and Management


  • Margaret F. Moloney RN-C, PhD, ANP,

  • Constance J. Johnson MD

Address correspondence to Margaret F. Moloney, RN, PhD, ANP, Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing, Georgia State University, P.O. Box 4019, Atlanta, GA 30302-4019. E-mail: mmoloney@gsu.edu


In spite of the fact that migraines are 1 of the major problems seen by primary care providers, almost half of people with migraines do not obtain appropriate diagnosis and/or treatment. Migraine occurs in about 18% of women, and is often aggravated by hormonal shifts occurring around women's menses, during pregnancy, and during perimenopause. Quality of life with migraines is often greatly diminished, and many women miss work days and/or are less productive with migraines. Women's health care providers are very likely to see women with poorly managed migraines, but are often not comfortable diagnosing and treating their patients with headaches. A variety of self-care treatments, acute care prescription and non-prescription headache medications, and preventive medications are available and if used by a knowledgeable provider can provide relief for many women who might not otherwise receive appropriate care.