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Headache Center

The first center of its kind on the West Coast, the UCSF Headache Center provides comprehensive care to relieve the most debilitating headaches. We offer outpatient consultative care as well as inpatient hospital treatment for those who need it. In addition, the center conducts research, exploring the mechanisms of headaches and how existing and new treatments might provide relief.

Our specialists work closely with you and your primary care team to develop an effective long-term treatment plan. When appropriate, we work with experts in neurosurgery, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and ophthalmology (eyes and vision). We also work with specialists at the Osher Center for Integrative Health, which combines conventional and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, herbs, massage and meditation, for treating headaches.

We treat patients and families with the utmost respect and compassion, with sensitivity to the diverse places and cultures from which our patients come.

Pediatric patients are seen at the UCSF Pediatric Headache Center.

Patients with pain in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are treated at the UCSF Center for Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine. For more information and appointments, call (415) 476-8298.

Patients with sinus pain are treated at the UCSF Sinus Center. For more information and appointments, call (415) 353-2757.

We have full accreditation from the United Council of Neurological Subspecialties and are part of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.

Telemedicine consultations

The UCSF Headache Center is able to provide consultations for patients in our region, as well as nationally and internationally. We only require a referral and recent medical records from the primary medical or neurological team and insurance information. Patients will be seen virtually by Dr. Levin or one of his associates. A complete consultation note will be sent to your primary care provider and/or neurologist with detailed recommendations for diagnostic testing (if warranted) and specific management suggestions including medications, pain procedures and neuromodulation techniques. Call (415) 353-8393 to make a telemedicine appointment.

Inpatient headache care

One of our specialties is caring for patients whose headache conditions haven't improved in response to multiple treatment approaches. For some, treatment in the hospital with intravenous medication can help. We admit patients to our headache treatment unit at Mount Zion hospital on Mondays, and they stay until the regimen is complete. Discharge typically happens on Thursday or Friday morning, depending on the medication used.

Our locations

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    Our research initiatives

    • UCSF-Headache-Center-Research-2x

      UCSF Headache Center Research

      The UCSF Headache Center conducts research on a variety of therapies for headaches, enrolling patients who are great candidates and using their study findings to shape clinical practice.

    Clinical trials

    Contact the Clinical Research CoordinatorDecorative Caduceus

    Prospective cohort study defining the natural history and progression of headaches

    Long-term observational study to understand disease onset, progression, and determine better treatments for migraine and headache

    Contact the Clinical Research Coordinator
    Contact the Clinical Research CoordinatorDecorative Caduceus

    Identification of ingredients in red wine which trigger migraine headaches

    Investigation of migraine provocation by red wine

    Contact the Clinical Research Coordinator
    Contact the Clinical Research CoordinatorDecorative Caduceus

    Relaxation and Integrative Therapy Techniques in Migraine (RITTIM)

    Assessing if relaxation techniques improve migraine outcomes

    Contact the Clinical Research Coordinator
    Learn moreDecorative Caduceus

    A pilot trial of galcanezumab for vestibular migraine

    Assessing the efficacy of galcanezumab in treating vestibular migraine

    Learn more

    Awards & recognition

    • usnews-neurology

      Among the top hospitals in the nation

    • usnews-neurology

      Best in California and No. 2 in the nation for neurology & neurosurgery

    Support services


    Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Class

    This eight-week class teaches mindfulness practices that can reduce stress and improve your overall health, such as meditation and body awareness.

    Patient Resource

    Patient Relations

    We welcome feedback about your experience at UCSF Health. Find out how to contact us with comments, questions or concerns.

    Preparing for Your Appointment

    What to Expect

    • At your first visit, you'll meet with a neurologist who specializes in headache medicine. This doctor will obtain a detailed history, perform a head and neck as well as a neurological examination, assess the cause of your headaches, and offer treatment options.
    • Because UCSF is a major, internationally known medical training center, you may see physicians in specialty training (residents and fellows) who are under the supervision of one of our faculty.
    • At follow-up visits, you'll be seen either by one of our neurologists or, occasionally, by a nurse practitioner. Your primary care provider will also participate in your ongoing care.

    International Services

    If you live outside the United States and are coming to UCSF for medical treatment, our patient liaisons can help coordinate all aspects of your visit.

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    Interpreting Services

    UCSF offers interpreters in various languages, including American Sign Language (ASL), as well as services for deaf, hard-of-hearing and visually impaired patients.

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    Hospital Stays

    Make your hospital stay as smooth and comfortable as possible by finding out how to prepare and what to expect.

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    Your Doctor Visit

    See our top 10 tips for making your UCSF doctor’s appointment as stress-free and productive as possible.

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    (888) 689-8273