Children's Hospital Colorado
Neuroscience Institute
Neuroscience Institute

Headache Program

Headaches are common in kids, occurring in 50 percent of children by age 7 and in 80 percent of teens by age 15. Migraines often begin for boys before age 10 and typically start around puberty for girls. They don’t usually indicate a serious medical condition, but they can significantly impact the lives of kids and families.

Our multidisciplinary headache team cares for headaches of all kinds in kids of all ages, from toddlers to young adults. With treatments ranging from lifestyle and behavioral medicine to the most advanced therapies available, our team creates an individualized approach to each child's condition.

Why choose Children's Colorado for treating your child’s headaches?

The Neuroscience Institute at Children's Colorado, ranked among the top neurology and neurosurgery centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, sees and treats more than 18,000 children each year — more than 2,600 of them for headaches. Our program's team of experts specializes in pediatric neurology with a specific focus on headache medicine.

Young boy in blue shirt looks up.

In addition to caring for headaches in kids, we conduct research to find new and better ways to treat them. This deep knowledge allows us to pinpoint the root causes of headaches.

Our partnerships with other specialties at Children’s Colorado enable us to design personalized treatment plans to address each patient’s unique needs. As an academic institution, we always apply the latest, most innovative therapies and techniques.

Our approach to headache treatment for kids

Headaches can seriously impact a child's quality of life, especially when they occur frequently. Here, we assess the impact of a child’s headaches in order to plan treatment:

  • Occasional, less intense, tension-type headaches
  • Regular headaches, approaching chronic
  • Chronic migraine

Ideally, we try to catch children in the first or second stage, before their headaches develop into more debilitating migraines. Early intervention often means milder intervention.

Individualized headache treatment plans

Our treatment plans are tailored to each individual child, but they typically build on five basic stages:

  1. Assess the type of headache affecting the child and its impact on their quality of life.
  2. Identify health habits that may contribute to the child’s headaches and assist the family in planning to avoid triggers.
  3. Determine a course of treatment based on the child’s individual health issues and preferences.
  4. Coordinate with other specialties within Children’s Colorado to address any related factors contributing to the child’s headaches.
  5. Partner with the family to advocate for the child in school and other daily activities.

Treating headaches in kids without medication

Lifestyle and behavioral issues can lead to headaches in kids. In such cases, we use a behavioral health approach to treatment.

  • Sleep issues: Sleep issues often play a role in headaches. The Sleep Center at Children’s Colorado conducts sleep studies to help isolate problems when appropriate.
  • Psychological concerns: Headaches can significantly disrupt a child’s ability to stay engaged in school, sports and other pursuits, and can cause difficult emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression. Our team’s psychologist can work with families to help kids cope and get back to daily activities. They can also help families develop strategies to improve a child’s ability to follow treatment recommendations, particularly regarding healthy lifestyle habits.

When medication for headaches is the best solution

When medication is needed, we offer the most advanced pediatric headache treatments available. We even offer access to clinical trials, many of which are not available anywhere else. Our treatment options include:

  • Nerve blocks for acute migraines
  • Infused medication when home medication has failed
  • Access to clinical trials for treatments not yet available on the open market

In some cases, our team uses botox injections as a preventative measure for chronic migraines when traditional treatments and medications have failed.

Contact us

For more information about the Headache Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, call 720-777-6895.

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