What might be causing this strange headache?
June 1, 2009 10:15 AM   Subscribe

What might be causing this strange headache?

I suffer from stress headaches frequently, but I was actually feeling kind of good this morning. Then all of a sudden, white sitting at my desk at work, I felt a single throb of pain in my right temple. It went away for 30-60 seconds, and then it happened again. The third and fourth ones happened 5-15 minutes apart (I'm really not sure) and have now stopped. Now I just have this light and dull ache throughout the entirety of my head. I'm not thinking as clearly as I could a few hours earlier.

I get all types of headaches: migraines as a teenager, menstrual migraines, hunger headaches, stress headaches, headaches from too much caffeine or sugar. But I've never had something like this happen before. Any thoughts? Should I just let it go since I get other types of headaches all the time? I feel like if I could figure out possible causes, I'd know the best way to get rid of it...
posted by Jenesta to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well obviously, it could be one of many very dangerous things. The wife of an acquaintance left work in a cab when she was suffering a bad headache, then collapsed and died of an aneurism in the cab. Since, on preview, no experts have answered, I think it would be prudent to let someone know how you are feeling and that you need to go have it checked out at emergency ASAP.

on the other hand...

I've had intense, transient pain like that (centered somewhere around the eye/temple/sinus) and think that it has something to do with my wisdom teeth settling every once in a while.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:40 AM on June 1, 2009

I've gotten those pains since I was a child, but extremely rarely compared to 'ordinary' migraines and tension headaches. For me, they've always resolved themselves in short order (often with a scalp massage and Excedrin), and I forget all about them. They seem somewhat tension-related, in my case.

If these pains are spontaneous and have no underlying neurological cause, they are called 'primary stabbing headaches' or 'icepick' headaches.

Of course, unless you see a doctor, there's no way to know with certainty that there's not an underlying cause, and there's the inevitable feeling of, 'oh geez, I'm having an aneurysm.'
posted by zennie at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2009

thanks for giving me something to go on zennie. I went and looked up icepick headaches and it definitely seems similar to what I'm experiencing (frequency and location match up.) It has happened a few more times now, sometimes several in a row before it stopped, and I'm now remembering that I've had this problem in the past but just assumed it was part of getting a migraine.

Looks like I'll have something to bring up at my physical in a few weeks. Thanks!
posted by Jenesta at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2009

I have been getting stabbing, sharp pains in the back of my head on the right side a couple times a month for most of my life. I have had an MRI to try to determine the origin and they didn't find anything out of the ordinary. I've survived this long with them, so you might not need to be worried. Probably a good idea to at least mention it at your physical anyway- it might help if you recorded the date/time/nature of the headaches, especially if you get more within the next few weeks. If they suddenly get worse, I'd go in right away.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2009

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