Nina Riggins

Lifestyle modifications in headache management are extremely important. That means regular sleep, healthy meals, and exercise are all wonderful tools to create less pain for our patients.


Dr. Nina Riggins work revolves around progressive research and effective treatment for people battling pain and suffering including but not limited to Migraine headaches, Cluster headaches, Hemicrania, Trigeminal neuralgia, Vestibular migraines, Post-traumatic headaches, Hypnic headaches, and Medication rebound headaches.

Dr. Riggins training in medicine is vast and extensive, including studying as a Neurology Resident in the Department of Neurology at Penn State Medical Center, serving as a Fellow in Clinical Neurophysiology at the Department of Neurology, SUNY, and as a Fellow and Clinical Instructor in one of the most prestigious headache programs in the world.

The defining element in Dr. Riggins work in Neurology is not simply her educational accomplishments and career expertise, but rather her desire to truly help and care for the individual. More than her fascination with the human brain, the driving factor behind Dr. Riggins work is her desire to help people feel heard, valued, and ultimately healed. She is dedicated to her mission of discovering the best way to put the many pieces of the seemingly evasive headache treatment puzzle back together. She works tirelessly to get her patients back to a high-functioning, pain-free state.

Dr. Riggins understands the unique difficulties that can accompany severe headaches and migraines, and she longs to show people they are not alone in their pain.Nina is excited about the future of Neurology and emerging new treatments for headache, and she is an active contributor to much of the cutting edge research that is advancing the industry. She finds a tremendous sense of satisfaction in knowing that her work is helping patients find relief from their suffering and painful medical conditions. She is proud of the dedicated and experienced team of professionals she works closely with on a daily basis.

She is confident that, as a team, they can identify and choose advanced, state-of-the-art medical weapons to help treat patient’s problems. Dr. Riggins and her team are currently implementing, in their practice, cutting-edge new approaches in headache medicine, including the use of neuromodulation devices, which were recently approved by the FDA. She is passionate about new medications for headache, including CGRP antibodies use in Headache. She is also an advocate for the importance of lifestyle modifications, including diet, exercise, and sleep hygiene. She is helping her patients to identify individual triggers for their headaches and thrives in the close patient/physician relationship where she can help get the patient’s life back on track.

Dr. Nina Riggins is also extremely active in the headache community, she is a member of AHS (American Headache Society) and participates in the support of activities of the Non-profit patient advocacy group known as “Miles for Migraine”. She is a strong believer in the power of community, and she is confident that, by joining together, we can help people find healing from their pain and become more than conquerors.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

My passion for science and helping people are unified in the mission of creating less pain in this world. My profession is a great privilege and being a Headache Neurologist is an outstanding opportunity to serve humanity and contribute to something bigger than myself. I always knew I was here to support and to heal, and my goals are to continue my education and research to help as many patients as possible.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day includes clinic at UCSF, and sometimes hospital work. I work mostly with difficult to diagnose and treat headaches, and I love education and collaboration.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas for research come from wanting our patients to be able to get the specific new treatment modality needed to help treat their headaches and move on with their lives. If I believe from a scientific point of view that an idea has a great chance to work, I move on to my next steps. I will then complete a literature review, and start to build a team of researchers centered around this specific project. Luckily for me, we have the most wonderful and dedicated staff at UCSF who are always ready to jump in and get started if it benefits our patients.

A crucial aspect of treatment is hearing feedback first hand from my patients on the research project centered around their care. Our patients are the main engine that drives the entire project, so I am always trying to think of new tools and resources to help them. More research is always needed!

What’s one trend that excites you?

The trend that really excites me is patient advocacy, especially all of the participation of patients and doctors at the events surrounding the subject. I believe that patients are our top priority, and advocacy needs to be in every patient treatment plan. We are going to create a future with less pain.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself to get involved in social media! Social media is an amazing tool for information on patient advocacy events. Since joining, I have been able to grow my network and offer my help and support at advocacy events around the country.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I believe that life/work balance is not a priority. I support believers that it should be integration. Love in my family gives me strength and enhances my ability to be a compassionate doctor. Bringing up my son in a family where he saw first hand every day that you have to live and lead with passion for a great cause was great, and now he loves his job, he helps people and he knows to never give up.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I would recommend exercise! Lifestyle modifications in headache management are extremely important. That means regular sleep, healthy meals, and exercise are all wonderful tools to create less pain for our patients.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I don’t think about my profession as being a business, rather it is a mission to help people. I believe it’s important for any headache specialist to not only have the knowledge and the ability to complete research, but they should also remember to let in their own humanity in order to sincerely help their patients get their life back from chronic pain.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

My idea would be the creation of a program that can provide the best treatments for headache for the population of people who are suffering from headaches after experiencing some sort of trauma. If someone takes the idea forward right away, we can progress even further with a multicenter approach to help as many people as possible.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My donations to research of the brain, helping people with addiction, and mental health are the best money I am spending.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Twitter helps me stay in touch with advocacy and educational events so I can offer my help and contribute!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I don’t believe that everyone who is suffering from headaches should be reading the same book. Rather, I trust that every person, and every patient needs to have an individual plan to fulfill exactly what they need.

What is your favorite quote?

Success takes teamwork and dedication! There is a lot of positive news coming out of the headache field, and many of these wins are due to research “Per aspera ad astra!”