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Diagnosing Headaches | Ask the Expert
Head and neck pain are a common reason people visit their doctors. These symptoms are often due to stress, tension, poor posture or occasionally migraines. During an office visit, your doctor will ask questions about your overall medical history, your current health, and your specific symptoms. He or she will conduct a physical and neurological exam. This exam will help detect any signs of an underlying illness that might be causing your headache. After a full evaluation and discussion with you, your doctor should be able to determine what type of headaches you have - and what remedy or treatment should be effective for you. This may require a trial of medications or lifestyle changes. There may be situations where ordering an imaging study, such as a CT or MRI, is appropriate . However, the majority of headaches do not require imaging to determine a cause or a treatment plan.
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Question:

If I don't want to have a CT or MRI of my head, what else can my doctor do to determine the cause of my headaches?

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.

Head and neck pain are a common reason people visit their doctors. These symptoms are often due to stress, tension, poor posture or occasionally migraines.

During an office visit, your doctor will ask questions about your overall medical history, your current health, and your specific symptoms. He or she will conduct a physical and neurological exam. This exam will help detect any signs of an underlying illness that might be causing your headache.

After a full evaluation and discussion with you, your doctor should be able to determine what type of headaches you have - and what remedy or treatment should be effective for you. This may require a trial of medications or lifestyle changes.

There may be situations where ordering an imaging study, such as a CT or MRI, is appropriate . However, the majority of headaches do not require imaging to determine a cause or a treatment plan.

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