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Should I Have Imaging Done for Headaches? | Ask the Expert
Patients are often concerned that their headaches are a sign of more serious underlying health issues, and request imaging studies for reassurance. The good news is that headaches are rarely caused by underlying health issues. Headaches are more often caused by stress, tension or migraines, all of which are not visible on imaging studies. Your physician will consider your medical history and perform an exam before considering a CT or MRI. Such studies may be indicated in unusual situations such as: A change in your headache pattern A seizure along with your headache A recent head injury, such as a fall Headaches that do not lessen with pain medications
Other,

Question:

I am worried about my frequent headaches. Do I need an imaging study to see if the headaches might represent a bigger health issue?

Answer:

Gary McLeod, MDGary McLeod, MDFamily MedicineSutter Pacific Medical Foundation
Expert
Gary McLeod, MDFamily MedicineSutter Pacific Medical Foundation

Dr. McLeod practices Family Medicine in the Santa Rosa community as part of Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods. He is focused on helping patients understand their role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Patients are often concerned that their headaches are a sign of more serious underlying health issues, and request imaging studies for reassurance. The good news is that headaches are rarely caused by underlying health issues. Headaches are more often caused by stress, tension or migraines, all of which are not visible on imaging studies.

Your physician will consider your medical history and perform an exam before considering a CT or MRI. Such studies may be indicated in unusual situations such as:

A change in your headache pattern

A seizure along with your headache

A recent head injury, such as a fall

Headaches that do not lessen with pain medications

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