New Orleans Living
By Meri Monsour
Dr. Amy Wilcox Voigt is one of only three neurologists in the New Orleans area who is board certified in headache management. Originally from New York, Dr. Voigt first moved to New Orleans to complete her neurology residency at Tulane Medical Center, where she “fell in love” with the city. After she was invited to complete a headache medicine fellowship at the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia, Dr. Voigt returned to New Orleans to join the Louisiana State University Department of Neurology where she devotes a great deal of her clinical practice to the diagnosis, management and treatment of patients suffering from chronic headaches and migraines.
Having grown up with a mother who was a nurse, Dr. Voigt says she always wanted to be a doctor and that she spent her formative years in the hospital environment. She was originally attracted to neurology for the practice’s emphasis on patient interaction and the important role communication plays in diagnosis, saying that she can gain more from simply speaking with and learning about her patients than she can from their lab results. Dr. Voigt decided to specialize in headache management, because she felt she could have a real impact on a population in need of treatment.
“Eighteen percent of Americans suffer from migraine headaches,” she says. “That’s nearly one in every five people, so likely that’s you or someone you know.” Due to a hormonal trigger that is more prevalent in females, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines, so most of Dr.Voigt’s patients are women between the ages of 18 and 55. “I’m treating a patient demographic with whom I can closely connect, which I think is important,” she adds.
Dr. Voigt treats many of her patients on an ongoing basis throughout their lives, so she is able to establish a relationship with them and understand certain triggers, such as work or family related stresses, sleep patterns and overall lifestyle, which she says is essential to headache management.
“Many chronic headache and migraine sufferers’ lab results and imaging studies will be normal, so really listening to my patients and asking the right questions can help me identify certain triggers,” Dr. Voigt explains. “This also helps us develop a trust-based relationship, so my patients are comfortable with the treatment methods and medications I prescribe.”
To treat chronic migraine sufferers, which are individuals who experience more than 15 migraine days per month, Dr. Voigt will first determine their triggers in order to properly prescribe medication, which could include anti-seizure drugs, anti-depressants and even blood-pressure medications. “Obviously, you also have to know someone’s lifestyle and personality when prescribing these medications,” Dr. Voigt says. “For example, I’m not going to prescribe a mother of two toddlers a medication that will make her drowsy!”
Dr. Voigt also uses Botox to treat migraines, which the FDA approved in 2010 for chronic migraine management, delivered every three months in a series of injections in the face and neck. Dr. Voigt says she has seen approximately an 80 percent success rate in her patients who receive the Botox treatment method. “[While it primarily] decreases the severity of the migraines — as opposed to their frequency — it allows people to stop taking daily preventative medications, which can be costly and have side-effects, and it gives them back their lives!” Dr. Voigt primarily uses Botox to treat migraines, but she is also trained to administer it to control facial spasms and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, which can worsen stress-related headaches.
In addition to Botox, Dr. Voigt administers nerve-block injections and trigger-point injections, which are both in-office procedures that help control muscle spasms that trigger tension headaches and migraines. In addition to medical treatment, Dr. Voigt recommends her patients manage headaches by getting the proper amount of sleep; follow a healthy diet; and control any hypoglycemia issues by eating small, frequent, healthy meals and limiting caffeine intake — all of which can be triggers. She also says that exercise makes a big difference in the management of chronic headaches, and often prescribes yoga for its health and stress-relief benefits, as well as acupuncture.
Regardless of the treatment method she uses, Dr. Voigt says that her greatest reward in her daily practice is making someone feel better. “Knowing I’m able to improve their quality of life and give them some relief — that’s a great feeling,” she says.
Gravier Multispecialty Clinic
2025 Gravier, 5th floor
Medical School: St. George’s University School of Medicine; St. George’s, Grenada
Residency: Neurology, Tulane Medical Center
Fellowship: Headache Management, Jefferson Headache Center; Philadelphia
Board Certifications: Neurology, Headache Management