Ice Pick Headaches - The Basics - Updated
It's not unusual for someone who has migraines to have more than one type of migraine or another entirely different headache disorder. Up to 40% of migraineurs also experience primary stabbing headache, another primary headache disorder more commonly called "ice pick headaches."
Primary stabbing headaches are short, stabbing, extremely intense headaches that can be absolutely terrifying. They generally only last between five and 30 seconds. However, they come out of nowhere, can strike anywhere on the head, literally feel as if an ice pick is being stuck into your head, then disappear before you can even figure out what's happening. The pain can also seem to occur in or behind the ear.
In an article published in Current Pain and Headache Reports, Dr. Todd Rozen summarized the situation of people with ice pick headaches quite succinctly:
"The short-lasting headache syndromes are unique based on their short duration of pain and their associated symptoms. Physicians need to be knowledgeable about these syndromes because each has its own distinct treatment and if the diagnosis is missed, the patient can be burdened with extreme headache-related disability."
You can read more about primary stabbing headache / ice pick headaches in our newly updated article Ice Pick Headaches - The Basics.
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Reviewed by David Watson, MD.
© Teri Robert, 2014, • Last updated November 17, 2014.