UPMC Headache Center

Nearly 1200 people are seen at the UPMC Headache Center every month for headache diagnosis and management. In an appointment, personalized care plans are developed to reduce severity, length and frequency of headache. In addition to prescription medications, headache experts typically recommend lifestyle and nutrition changes and may offer innovative injectable therapies, pericranial nerve blocks, and onabotulinum toxin (Botox) injections.

The UPMC Headache Center has world-class neurologists who have received subspecialty training and are board-certified in Headache Medicine. This allows patients immediate access to the most advanced and effective treatments for all types of headaches. At the UPMC Headache Center, neurologists will treat all types of headaches – even those that are a result of another medical condition.

Common Headaches Treated


Migraines are moderate to severe recurrent headaches that are commonly accompanied by throbbing or pulsating pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. Attacks typically last 4-72 hours. Some patients report experiencing visual disturbances, otherwise known as “auras” or other sensory symptoms prior to the start of a migraine. Many patients have migraine “triggers” that typically start the onset of a migraine episode: stress, certain foods or beverages, bright or flashing lights, strong scents, or changes to sleep or patterns. Some migraines occur the time around a women’s menstrual period and are linked to the monthly fluctuation in the hormone estrogen. Migraines are more common in women than men.

Cluster Headaches

Cluster headaches are severe, stabbing headaches that occur in a series or “cluster”, and most often will include pain or symptoms around the eye on one side of the head. They frequently will start while a patient is asleep and can recur at the same time of day for several weeks or months. Attacks are brief, lasting 15 minutes to 3 hours, and may occur several times daily. Cluster headaches are more common in men than women.

Sinus Headaches

Sinus headaches are the result of a sinus infection and are now felt to be over diagnosed. Studies show most patients with self- or clinician-diagnosed sinus headache have a form of migraine. When due to sinus disease the headaches typically occur in the context over several days of feeling ill with fever, nasal congestion with discolored drainage, and facial pain.

Tension Headache

Tension headaches are described as a tight band of pain around the head and mild to moderate in intensity. These headaches lack the severity, sensory sensitivities (light, noise), and nausea often seen with migraine. They are the most common type of headache and the easiest to manage, with response to over-the-counter medication typically noted. They are more common in women than in men.