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Headache Program

When a child suffers severe or frequent headaches, it can interfere with school, family and social relationships. Our Pediatric Headache Program is the first on the West coast to focus on diagnosing and treating all types of debilitating headaches in children. Our goal is to relieve your child's pain and get them back to enjoying their normal activities.

Our specialists – pediatric neurologists with expertise in childhood headache – work closely with patients and their primary care doctors to develop effective, long-term treatment plans. Depending on your child's needs, we may work with other types of specialists, such as neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists and ophthalmologists. We also collaborate with experts at the Osher Center for Integrative Health, which combines alternative therapies like acupuncture, herbs, massage and meditation with conventional headache treatments.

As a research center, we're exploring potential new treatments for headache, as well as ways to improve existing therapies. Your child may have the option to receive an experimental treatment by joining a clinical trial.

What to Expect

At your child's first visit, one of our pediatric headache specialists will take a detailed medical history and perform a careful exam to determine the underlying cause of the headaches. We will then discuss treatment options. Because UCSF is an academic medical center, your child may see doctors who are completing specialty training under the supervision of one of our faculty members. Some families also meet with our pain psychologist.

At later visits, the specialist will continue to monitor your child's condition and adjust the treatment plan as needed. At each visit we will coordinate our care with your child's primary care doctor.

Support our program

To help our program expand its services and provide crucial care to the families who need it most, please consider making a gift in support of the Pediatric Headache Program.

Our locations (1)

    Awards & recognition

    • Ranked among the nation's best in 10 specialties

    • One of the nation's best in neurology & neurosurgery

    • in NIH funding among U.S. neurology programs

    Plan your visit

    Preparing for your appointment

    What to Bring

    • Photo I.D.
    • Health insurance card
    • Insurance authorization, if required
    • Doctor's referral, if required
    • Recent test results related to your child's condition
    • List of medications, including dosages, plus any your child is allergic to
    • List of questions you may have
    • Device or paper for taking notes

    For visitors

    Before you head to the hospital, check out our guidelines for visitors and caregivers.


    Your Stay

    We offer valuable information to help you plan for your child's upcoming hospital stay. Find out about food services, family accommodations and more.

    Learn more

    Your Child's Care Team

    Our doctors, nurses, child life specialists and other providers have special training to care for children. Meet your child's care team.

    Learn more

    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Learn more

    Support services

    Child Life Services

    Activity rooms, pet therapy and more to help kids feel at home.

    Child Life

    Certified child life specialists ease the stress and anxiety of childhood illness through therapeutic play, schooling and family-focused support.

    Family Amenities

    Family-friendly amenities help you relax and take care of yourself while staying close to your child. We offer lounges, kitchens, showers, breastfeeding rooms and more.


    Social Services

    Social workers ease the effect of illness, injury and hospitalization on your family with counseling and assistance to help you navigate the challenges.


    Activity Rooms

    Activity rooms offer a relaxed environment for children of all ages. Features include a playroom, digital arts studio and teen lounge. Find out more.


    Art Therapy

    Art therapy helps kids and families express themselves, making it easier to cope with pediatric health issues. Group and bedside services are available.


    Music Therapy Program

    Board-certified music therapists help kids cope with illness and the feelings that come with it. Find out about group activities and bedside therapy.


    School Program

    Our schoolroom services and individual learning programs help children hospitalized at UCSF continue their education and get ready to return to school.


    School Re-Entry Program

    We help kids return to school after hospitalization by educating staff and students about their needs and recommending needed accommodations. Read more.


    Individual Playtime & Instruction

    If your child can't be around other kids for medical reasons, you can sign up for private sessions in our activity and school rooms. Find out how.


    Interpreter Services & Communication Assistance

    Interpreter services in many languages and TDDs are available for families that need help communicating with care teams. Here's how to access them.

    Family Resource Center

    We help families cope with the challenges of childhood illness and hospitalization in a relaxing environment where parents can get a much-needed break.


    Parent Support Program

    Weekly activities, including knitting, scrapbooking, chair massage and more, help family caregivers get a much-needed break. Find out more.


    Patient Relations

    Patient relations reps and nursing supervisors are here to answer questions and address concerns. Learn about your rights, how to reach us and more.


    Spiritual Care

    Chaplains help UCSF patients, families and staff cope with the spiritual and emotional challenges of childhood illness. Learn more.


    International Services

    If you're coming to UCSF from outside the U.S., we coordinate your child's appointments and provide other helpful services. Here's how to get started.

    Learning never stops

    Our classroom and bedside classes help kids get credit and keep learning during treatment.

    See our school program