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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.  

Made possible by a clinical partnership between UCSF and St. Mary’s Medical Center, inpatient hospital-based care is offered to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanism of your headaches, explore existing and new treatments to break your cycle of pain, and provide relief.

Conditions We Treat

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

Beginning the Treatment Process

Your treatment journey will begin at the UCSF Outpatient Headache Center, available via a referral from your primary care physician. After an initial outpatient clinic visit and assessment, the St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center may be suggested to you. Your neurologist will help you make the decision, and will explain the treatment plan clearly and completely.  

The St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center may be the appropriate treatment option for you if you have experienced any of the following:

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

UCSF Headache Center Appointment Request

UCSF Headache Center
2230 Post Street, Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: 415.353.8393
Fax: 415.353.9539
Hours: Monday – Friday; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

What to Expect During Inpatient Treatment

You will be 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. There is also the option for a loved one to stay in your room with you during your stay.

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

The specialists at the St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center work closely with you to get to know you and gain a better understanding of your headache condition and how it affects you. 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. 

You will be released with a more thorough understanding of your headache condition and triggers, and a long-term treatment plan to help keep your pain at bay.

What to Bring

  • Health insurance information, including authorizations and referrals
  • Recent test results related to your condition
  • List of prescription medicine and dosages
  • List of medications you are allergic to
  • List of questions you may have
  • Paper and pen to take notes

Your Care Team at the St. Mary’s/UCSF Inpatient Headache Center