Living with migraine symptoms can be debilitating. It can also require the consultation of a healthcare team.
Researchers have found positive correlations between telemedicine and migraine management. These appointments allow you to meet with a healthcare professional using your phone or other device connected to the internet.
Make sure you prepare for a telemedicine appointment to get the most out of your time together.
Telemedicine is a type of medical appointment that’s conducted remotely, via the phone or internet. It may be an appropriate way to seek a doctor’s input if you’re housebound, live in a remote area, or are too busy for an in-person appointment.
These types of appointments have grown in popularity and have become much more prevalent since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many medical offices closed or limited in-person patient appointments to slow the spread of the virus during this time.
Telemedicine requires you to have a device like a computer or smartphone, internet access, and a private place to interact with your doctor.
Telemedicine offers several advantages, compared to traditional appointments:
- You do not have to travel to a doctor’s office.
- You do not have to wait in an office for your appointment.
- You can see a doctor who practices outside of your area.
Because you don’t need to make time for an in-person appointment, you may be more likely to check in with your doctor regularly, or to see a needed specialist who is not in your area, and you may pay less for the appointment.
Telemedicine may also go beyond direct appointments with your doctor. Additional medical services that are available virtually may fall under the umbrella of telehealth. These remote health services may include:
- email communication between yourself, your healthcare team, and their offices
- online tools that track and provide input on symptoms and other health factors
- diagnostic tools
- patient education
- electronic prescriptions and refills
You may find a telemedicine appointment to be the perfect fit for a migraine consultation. Often, migraine is diagnosed through a conversation with your primary care doctor, neurologist, or another specialist.
All that’s needed during the appointment is your list of symptoms, health history, and any other relevant information. Your doctor can ask questions about your symptoms and determine possible causes and treatments.
Many treatments for migraine can be administered remotely. Your doctor can prescribe medications or recommend lifestyle changes to manage your symptoms. They may also refer you to a migraine or headache specialist for further evaluation.
Telemedicine may offer you the chance to meet with a migraine specialist who lives outside your region.
Research on telemedicine and migraine shows that this form of medicine can be very effective.
- One study found that telemedicine improved the chance patients would be prescribed appropriate medication for migraine.
- Another study found that more patients attended follow-up appointments for migraine via telemedicine than those scheduled for in-person appointments.
There may be some limitations of telemedicine appointments:
- Some healthcare professionals may not be set up for telemedicine and may be unable to offer this service.
- You may not feel comfortable discussing your symptoms over the phone or internet.
- Your symptoms may require a physical examination.
- You may need testing or treatment that requires in-person appointments. Some migraine treatments must be administered by a healthcare professional, including eptinezumab (Vyepti), which is an intravenous transfusion, and onabotulinumtoxinA (Botox) injections, which are typically given every 3 months.
You may be weighing whether it’s necessary to schedule an appointment with a doctor for your migraine symptoms. You should talk with a doctor if:
- you have regular headaches with moderate to severe pain
- in addition to the headaches, you also have symptoms including nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, or visual changes
- your symptoms interfere with your daily activities
- you experience symptoms weekly or more frequently
- you need to take pain relievers for symptoms several times a week
Make sure to prepare for your telemedicine appointment to ensure your time is well spent and that you convey all of your symptoms and concerns.
Write down your symptoms, current treatments, and any questions you have in advance. Your doctor may be curious about the severity of your symptoms, how often they occur, and how you manage them at home. Your doctor may also ask about your health and family history.
Follow-up telemedicine appointments can also require advance planning. Keep a record of symptoms that pop up, possible triggers for the symptoms, and your medication adherence. These notes will ensure that you get the most out of your telemedicine appointment.
At times, your medical needs may require an in-person appointment. Your doctor may want to evaluate your physical health with an in-person exam, lab tests, or other procedures. Sometimes your doctor may order an MRI or CT scan to find out more about your symptoms.
One common migraine treatment involves Botox. This requires regular injections at a doctor’s office.
Telemedicine can be very useful if you have migraine symptoms. You can share your symptoms and ask your doctor questions via the phone or internet. These appointments can result in prescription treatments and other recommendations to manage your symptoms.
There may also be reasons an in-person appointment makes more sense for your symptoms. Your doctor may prefer an in-person appointment if they don’t offer telemedicine, if you require a physical exam or further testing, or if your treatment involves in-person administration.