Third headache physician joins Norton Neuroscience Institute

Third headache physician joins Norton Neuroscience Institute

Mandy J. Whitt, M.D., has a simple message for people who experience headaches: There is help and there is hope. And, seeing a physician who specializes in headaches is getting easier.

Dr. Whitt worked as a family medicine doctor for six years before deciding to focus on treating patients with headaches.

Dr. Whitt became the third headache specialist at Norton Neuroscience Institute earlier this year. She sees patients primarily on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus, while Brian M. Plato, D.O., FAHS, is in clinic on the Norton Healthcare – St. Matthews campus and Jeffrey H. Frank, M.D., works on Norton Healthcare’s downtown campus. Three specially trained nurse practitioners also provide care.

Adding providers and expanding Norton Telehealth appointments have helped reduce the wait time for many patients to see a specialist.

From 2013 to 2019, Dr. Whitt was a primary care physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Fern Creek.

When she approached Dr. Frank two years ago about becoming certified in using Botox and occipital and pericranial nerve blocks, he suggested she subspecialize and get her certification from the National Headache Foundation. She took Dr. Frank up on his suggestion and recently completed a headache medicine fellowship with Dr.  Plato.

Dr. Whitt said she has enjoyed the transition to a family medicine physician specializing in headache medicine.

More focus on each headache patient

“I also have migraines, and while I like taking care of the whole patient, I have a connection with others who have chronic headaches,” Dr. Whitt said. “I also felt like I had a limited time per issue as a primary care physician. I now have so much more time to help with each patient with their headaches. I love it.”

Migraines are common, affecting 12 % of the US, yet many migraine sufferers feel stigmatized, according to Dr. Whitt.

“It’s staggering how many people think that they have to deal with it and don’t get treatment for their headaches,” Dr. Whitt said.

Treatment options can make a profound difference. According to Dr. Whitt, a recent patient had daily headaches and was unable to work, but a new medication improved his condition enough that he’s now working.

New treatments giving more people hope

Dr. Whitt is from Sparta, Tennessee, a small town in the middle of the state. She always knew she wanted to become a doctor. She attended medical school at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, and did her family medicine residency training in Jacksonville, Florida, with St. Vincent’s HealthCare.

According to Dr. Whitt, new medications make it an exciting time to be in headache medicine.

One group of migraine patients who had only over-the-counter medicine until recently were patients with heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved three new migraine drugs that don’t have added risks for these patients.

These new drugs are giving more and more people hope, and there are many others who can benefit from seeing a headache specialist.

“There are so many people that can get treatment who aren’t getting it,” she said.

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