What is an Ice Pick Headache?

This short-lived headaches packs a major punch.

Ice pick headaches are among the most painful types of headaches you can get. One second you feel fine. And the next second? Well, as the name so perfectly describes, it feels like someone just hit you in the head with an ice pick.

But what causes ice pick headaches? And how can you treat them? Let’s get a closer look at these short, sharp shocks.

Signs and Symptoms of Ice Pick Headaches

Ice pick headaches come on abruptly, with no warning signs. In fact, the lack of any other symptoms or triggering events is one of the hallmarks of an ice pick headache. Ice pick headaches are also known for their intensity, as they provide a pinpoint of excruciating pain that can occur in any part of your head, though most often at the temple or around the eye.

Fortunately, ice pick headaches do have at least one small silver lining: they often last for one to ten seconds before completely vanishing as abruptly as they arrived. Still, they are not to be taken lightly, as ice pick headaches usually recur, sometimes as often as several times in a single day.

Causes of Ice Pick Headaches

Ice pick headaches are considered to be “primary” headaches, meaning there usually isn’t an underlying cause. However, people who suffer from other headache disorders, such as migraines, are much more likely to also experience ice pick headaches. Additionally, they often occur in the same location as migraines and can sometimes occur simultaneously.

Treatment of Ice Pick Headaches

Treatment for ice pick headaches is challenging given their short duration. However, there is some good news for chronic sufferers. Since ice pick headaches are often linked with other types of headaches — including migraines and cluster headaches — treating those headache disorders can help reduce the occurrence of ice pick headaches. It’s a good idea to consult your doctor if you experience ice pick headaches.

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