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Dr Subbanna MD
Dr Subbanna MD, Neurologist (MD)
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 5550
Experience:  American Board Certified Neurologist, Internal Medicine
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For the past three days I've been having a sharp pain in the

Customer Question

for the past three days I've been having a sharp pain in the back of my head, right below the ear that comes and goes--like a "zing"--when the pain hits it only lasts for a few seconds but it hurts. It does help when I take ibuprofin. Do you know what it could be?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  Dr Subbanna MD replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I am an American Board Certified Neurologist; the expert to whom this question was originally addressed is not available now so the company has made this question available to other experts too and I am very glad to help you with your health concerns.
I have few questions first:
1) Are you doing fine in between these attacks of severe pain?
2) Any recent excessive physical straining especially involving the neck or head regions?
3) Are you under any excessive stress recently? Do you have any history of anxiety disorder, panic disorder or depressive illness etc?
4) Any ear symptoms like discharge from the ear, hearing problems, or any abnormal ringing sound in the ear?
5) Any trauma or injuries to the head or neck or ear regions recently?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes I am fine in between these attacks...the pain actually subsided overnight. I am wondering if it was a nerve that was acting up. Can that happen?

Expert:  Dr Subbanna MD replied 2 years ago.
Hi, I have received these additional information and questions. I am typing the answer now and I will post my answer here as soon as it is ready.
Expert:  Dr Subbanna MD replied 2 years ago.
Okay I am ready and I am posting my answer here.
Based on the details provided by you the recurrent headache or the severe sharp head pain you have been experiencing at the back of the head right below the ear is what is called as “Ice pick Headache”.
Ice pick headache is one of the most intense headaches a person can experience.
The name of ice pick headache is appropriately given after the sharp tool ice pick used to chip or break the ice because the headaches are extremely severe in intensity. Luckily they come and go very fast (just few seconds) but during these few seconds they can make the life like hell.
Your headache being very severe and also of very short duration so certainly fits the description of ice pick headache.
Ice pick headache is an example for a primary headache syndrome which means no secondary causes like tumors, infections etc will be identified for this type of headache, so not to be concerned about any serious brain conditions causing your headache. If you are under excessive stress it too can trigger these type of headaches.
Coming to the investigations;
Immediately you do not need any investigations, because these type of headaches generally resolve by themselves. If these headaches come back again and also persists then you need a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain just to make sure there is nothing else is causing this headache. But the good news is the above investigations (Head scan) come normal on most occasions.
Coming to the treatments;
If Ibuprofen is helping you can continue with it. But if you experience frequent episodes of these headaches then one of the following preventive agents can help;
Sodium valproate etc
To summarize once again; I once again reassure you that these headache/head pains are not due to any serious brain conditions, the diagnosis of this type of headache is ice pick headache, and if the headache comes back again and also persists then you may ask your Dr for a brain scan (CAT scan or MRI scan) as pointed earlier above, but once again I reassure you this is most likely not due to any serious underlying brain conditions. And regarding the treatment aspects you may please follow the above recommendations.
Please let me know if you have any further questions. And if you feel you have received the answer to your question please rate me to compensate me for the time and effort put by me in answering your question.
Best regards,
Neuro Doctor