Primary Stabbing Headache

Also known as: ice pick headache, jabs and jolts headache, needle-in-the-eye syndrome, ophthalmoplegia periodica, sharp short-lived head pain

What is a primary stabbing headache? 

A primary stabbing headache is an intense, sharp headache that often lasts only a few seconds. It gets its name due to the stabbing sensation that occurs with the headache.

What causes primary stabbing headache?

In many cases, the exact cause of the primary stabbing headache isn’t known, but for this headache type brain imaging is often indicated to rule out secondary causes of the pain. It does tend to occur more commonly in patients with migraine or a family history of migraine, so there may be a genetic predisposition.

What are the symptoms of primary stabbing headache? 

The most telltale symptom of the primary stabbing headache is the severe, intense stabbing sensation to the head that often occurs out of the blue, and can occur as a single jab or series of jabs. This can occur in any part of the head and is typically very short, lasting only a few seconds.

What are primary stabbing headache care options? 

In most cases, a primary stabbing headache comes and goes so quickly that medication or treatment is not needed. If the primary stabbing headaches occur frequently, certain medications can be used to decrease the frequency of the attacks.

Reviewed by: Suzanne Esther Hagler, MD

This page was last updated on: January 28, 2020 09:40 AM

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