Headache clinic to open at Stanford

New center will treat migraine and other causes of head pain with nutrition, counseling, massage and medicine

A new clinic dedicated to arguably one of the most common human ailments -- the headache -- will open on July 28 at Stanford Hospital and Clinics, officials have announced.

The clinic will be headed by Dr. Rob Cowan, chairman of complementary and alternative medicine for the American Headache Society and a board-certified specialist in psychiatry, neurology and pain medicine.

Often a chronic condition, headaches affect 60 million Americans and cost $30 billion annually in lost productivity, Cowan said.

"In many cases, patients have searched for help without result. You'll go to an emergency room; it's maybe the third or fourth time you've been in. You're labeled a drug seeker. You'll be given a narcotic, which isn't really effective. It's a horrible situation," he said.

Headache management has improved in the last decade, according to Meredith Barad, M.D., who is also joining the clinic.

"We are no longer throwing opiates at the pain; studies show they don't work," she said.

Cowan said the clinic will offer an integrated approach that focuses on prevention, lifestyle changes, physical therapy, stress management, nutritional counseling and planning for an immediate response with medication when a headache occurs.

Craniosacral work, massage and yoga with Stanford's Center for Integrative Medicine will also be part of the program, he said.

Migraine is a complex condition that requires complex care, he said.

"We don't have a cure, so the goal is to manage it as a chronic condition. It can become a footnote or it can ruin your life," he said.

Stanford will also add a fellowship in headache, a rarity, said Frank Longo, M.D., chair of neurology and neurosciences. Most medical training does not include substantive teaching about migraine and other forms of chronic headache, he said.

"That's especially remarkable, proportionately. It's one of the most common chief complaints in medicine, and it might be the most common in the neurosciences. Unless one has specialized training, it's a very intimidating area," he said.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Judith
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 22, 2011 at 10:45 am

With this economy, we could use it!

Like this comment
Posted by needit
a resident of Monroe Park
on Jul 22, 2011 at 10:49 am

I am getting jetlag and my headche kills me like hell.hope they can find some medicine to treat it.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Rose International Market reopening soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 4,345 views

The trauma of having to renew my California driver’s license
By Diana Diamond | 13 comments | 1,829 views

Eyes and the End of Life: Why Spend Time With the Dying?
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,686 views

Downtown Commercial Cap: Once more into the breach
By Douglas Moran | 4 comments | 1,494 views

Couples: Myth: You Can't Ask Your Partner to Change
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,387 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details