June is observed as the National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month (MHAM) in the United States. Sponsored by the National Headache Foundation (NHF), the monthly event aims to spread awareness and gain recognition of migraines and headaches as a legitimate neurobiological disease. It aims to encourage individuals suffering from migraine and headache to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment and to let them know about the current treatment modalities available. Migraine and headaches are one of the most prevalent, disabling neurological conditions that occur due to specific changes in the brain and surrounding blood vessels. During a headache, specific nerves of the blood vessels are activated and send pain signals to the brain. The condition produces throbbing or pulsing head pain (severe than normal headaches) that normally begins on one side of the head. Persons experiencing a migraine headache may be sensitive to light, sound, physical activity/movement and even smell. Medications can help prevent some headaches and make them less painful. However, the correct combination of medicines along with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes may help prevent the occurrence of pain. Migraine specialists, neurologists or other physicians treating this condition can rely on professional medical coding services to meet their claim submission tasks.

Reports from the National Headache Foundation suggest that about 47 percent of adults in the United States experience some form of migraine and headaches each year and it affects three times as many women as men. It is estimated that about 70-80 percent of people with migraines (called migraineurs) have other members in the family who have them too.  Migraines, which often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four different stages – pro-drome, aura, attack and post-drome. Not everyone who has migraines goes through all these stages. Common symptoms include – severe pain on one side of the head, red or watery eyes, sensitivity to light or sound, nausea and vomiting, visual disturbances, pain or irritation behind the eye, swollen eyelids, loss of appetite and feeling very warm (sweating) or cold (chills).

Migraine and headache fall into several categories depending on the symptoms. The most common types include – cluster headache, tension headache and migraine headache. The 2019 campaign aims to raise consciousness, educate the public and reduce the stigma associated with migraines, cluster headaches, and other similar disorders. Many factors have been identified as migraine triggers such normal hormonal fluctuations, stress, sleep changes, food additives and exposure to strong stimuli such as bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells.

Diagnosis of this condition begins with a detailed evaluation of previous medical history and a physical and neurological examination. Diagnostic tests such as CT scan and MRI scan will be performed to identify the causes of severe pain and other related symptoms. The treatment depends on how frequently the headaches occur, the type of medicine prescribed to prevent triggers and attacks, pain relief, and how long they last. Common treatment modalities include pain-relieving medications and preventive medications. Pain relieving medications include – pain relievers (over-the-counter medicines) like aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), triptans, dihydroergotamines, narcotic opioids and anti-nausea drugs. Preventive medications include – antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, botox injections and blood pressure-lowering medications. The diagnostic imaging tests and treatment modalities offered by migraine specialists/ neurologists must be documented using the correct medical codes. Billing and coding services offered by reliable and reputable medical billing and coding companies help physicians use the correct codes for their billing purposes.

ICD-10-CM codes for migraine and headaches include –