UC Davis Department of Neurology physician-researchers diagnose and treat patients suffering from chronic headaches. They also conduct research into the causes and treatments of:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Cluster headaches
  • Tension headaches

Researchers now believe that migraines are caused by a genetically inherited abnormality that triggers a change in brain cells that leads to painful inflammation and dilation of blood vessels. Department of Neurology investigators are among those conducting research into what triggers these changes in the brain. Already, scientists know that a long list of triggers — from hormones to specific foods — can cause headaches. Identifying the triggers has led to the discovery of numerous drug treatments. As new triggers are discovered, new therapies will likely follow.

Our researchers also conduct clinical trials aimed at developing novel treatments for headaches. They work to determine the best dosages of existing treatments and new ways to administer drugs to headache sufferers who also experience nausea and vomiting during attacks. Nasal sprays, tablets that dissolve under the tongue and drugs that are injected are all alternative methods of delivery being prescribed by our experts.

Among the latest treatments being used to treat migraines are drugs currently used to treat epilepsy. Our researchers have conducted the basic research showing how antiepileptic drugs work at the cellular level. In clinical practice, they prescribe these drugs to successfully prevent migraine attacks and reducing their frequency, severity and duration.

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