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Dr. Patrick Lavin leads the Vanderbilt Headache Clinic, which was established by Drs. John S. Warner and Dr. Gerald Fenichel. Physicians in the clinic evaluate and treat patients with chronic headaches, most commonly, migraine headaches. Other types of primary headaches include cluster headaches, hemicrania continua, hypnic headache, tension headaches and headaches caused by underlying disorders such as pseudotumor cerebri and other conditions.

In the United States, 28 million people suffer from migraine headaches, and 48 percent of these people have a disabling migraine once every three months. Migraine is a complex disorder of the nervous system: in addition to the head pain, presenting symptoms include nausea, vomiting,  one-sided pain (hemicrania – which gives the disorder its name), phonophobia, photophobia, and osmophobia (increased sensitivity and intolerance to odors). The pain may be pulsatile. About 20% of patients have an aura. An aura is a transient focal neurological disturbance which is typically a visual disturbance and lasts 15-20 minutes; the pain lasts 3-72 hours.

Migraine headaches are managed through a variety of methods, such as explanation and reassurance, identifying and avoiding triggers, behavioral modifications such as sleep, relaxation therapy, prescription medication and neural blockade.

While most headaches do not necessitate a doctor’s visit, headache suffers should seek medical advice if the following red flags are present:  first or worst headache, abrupt onset, onset after age 50, progressive worsening, headache on awakening or that awakens, a change in the pattern of an established chronic headache, poor response to medication, persistent numbness or weakness.

Faculty/ Staff
Patrick J. Lavin, M.D.
Anne O'Duffy, M.D.
John S. Warner, M.D.  (emeritus)
Esther Mitchell, Secretary

Clinical Trials in Headache
The Headache Division is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of all headaches.  To further this effort, the clinic participates in multiple clinical trials for the prevention and treatment of headache.

For questions regarding clinical protocols call:

Ms. Esther Mitchell
(615) 936-0060
fax (615) 936-0223

Referral and Patient Information
To contact the Headache Division for patient referrals call (615) 936-0060

Dr. John Warner has created a series of educational short notes for headache


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