Not all headaches are alike. Usually, it depends on the headache location for you to be able to determine what kind of a headache it is. Some headaches can start gradually while others occur all of the sudden. Some are characterized by throbbing or pulsating pain while others cause a dull pain that lasts for days. Understanding the nature of your headache is very important in preventing it from happening by avoiding the triggers. You should also try to learn more about your headache to find a suitable treatment.
An ice pick headache is characterized by short yet powerful stabs of pain that usually occur at the front or the sides of the head. Some patients describe the pain as electric. It is short yet very powerful at times. One stab can last for only a few seconds, but it would cause discomfort that can affect the quality of life.
What Causes Ice Pick Headaches?
There isn’t one single known cause for ice pick headaches. However, some doctors believe that it happens due to a problem in the way pain signals are transferred from and to the brain. Some people suffer from this stabbing pain as a symptom of another serious disease like multiple sclerosis, herpes or stroke. The ice pick headache usually runs through families. If you have a parent who suffers from this kind of pain, you will most probably have to deal with it later in life.
There are certain factors that could trigger ice pick headaches. One of them is related to food. People, who consume a lot of processed food that contains big amounts of nitrates, usually suffer from this kind of a headache. It is also common among people who don’t eat regularly or starve as a means to lose weight. A change in the sleep pattern or not having enough sleep can lead to this kind of a headache. A lot of people also tend to deal with this headache especially if they spend a lot of time using their smartphones. Using a smartphone puts the neck in a wrong position that affects the posture. The nerves in the head and the neck region get affected by this bad posture.
Can Ice Pick Headaches Be Treated?
Most patients feel that they don’t have to treat ice pick headaches as the pain usually lasts a few seconds. This doesn’t give painkillers a window to work which means that they can be quite useless. However, a treatment is possible especially if you tend to have more than one annoying episode per day.
A change in the diet, working out and sleeping more will usually make your ice pick headache go away. There are also some prescription drugs that can help you feel better but these should be taken under the supervision of your doctor or healthcare provider.
Although an ice pick headache is not dangerous, it could be a warning sign for something else going on. If your headache is accompanied by high fever, numbness or trouble seeing or talking; you should seek immediate medical help.