St. Mary's/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center


The St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center is the first of its kind on the West Coast, providing comprehensive care to help patients suffering from debilitating and disabling migraine and other head pain disorders that are not responding to first-line treatments. You can gain access to Canopy Health’s premier care network through CanopyCare, available during Open Enrollment underway this month!

Inpatient hospital-based care is offered to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanism of a patient’s headaches, explore existing and new treatments to break the cycle of pain, and provide relief.

The St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center offers treatment for:

  • Frequent migraines
  • Cluster headaches
  • Post-traumatic headaches
  • Other headache and facial pain disorders that fail to respond to treatment

The St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center may be the appropriate treatment option for those who have experienced any of the following symptoms, and have received a primary care physician’s referral:

  • Headache frequency greater than two days per week
  • Disabling headaches causing you to miss work, school, etc.
  • Failure with multiple outpatient approaches

Patients are admitted to the home-like environment of the St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center on a Monday and discharged on either a Thursday or Friday, depending upon the nature of the treatment recommended. Patients wear their own clothes and are encouraged to bring their own entertainment activities, such as books or electronic devices for non-stimulating reading, writing, or gaming.

Patients are assigned to a care team of specialists consisting of:

  • Neurologists with expertise in headache medicine
  • A headache medicine nurse practitioner
  • Headache medicine trained nurses

Specialists at the St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center work closely with patients to get to know them and gain a better understanding of their headache condition and how it affects them. When appropriate, we will also work with experts in neurosurgery, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), and ophthalmology (eyes and vision).

A combination of conventional medicine (medications and/or intravenous infusions) and alternative medicine (acupressure, herbs, massage, and meditation) may be used during treatment.

Patients are released with a more thorough understanding of their headache condition and triggers, and a long-term treatment plan to help keep the pain at bay.

CanopyCare members may schedule an appointment here: UCSF Headache Center Appointment Request (, or, by contacting your CanopyCare Primary Care Physician.