What Can Cause Shooting Pain in the Head

What can Cause Shooting Pain in the Head?

Pain in the head is very commonly experienced by many people. Headache is often felt in different ways like dull, aching, sharp stabbing or sudden shooting pain. While there are many health conditions that present headache as a symptom, there are specific medical conditions that can cause severe shooting pain in the head.

Sharp shooting pain in the head may be experienced in specific types of headaches and migraines or those that involve nerves and blood vessels.

Here are some common causes of shooting pain in the head.

What can Cause Shooting Pain in the Head?

Shooting Pain in Head Caused due to Tension Headaches

Tension headaches are experienced by some people and may be dull aching in nature but sometimes, can also be felt as sharp and shooting pain. The pain may radiate to nearby areas and the intensity and frequency may vary. Such headaches may be brought on by emotional stress, physical exertion, overwork and strained muscles of the neck.

Shooting Pain in Head Caused due to Cluster Headache

In cluster headache, pain may be felt on one side of the head and may occur for several days. There may be congestion of nose, tearing pain, burning and redness of eyes on the painful side. Cluster headache is often sharp, shooting and intense in character. It is usually brought on by exertion, changes in weather, excessive heat or light and altered routine.

Shooting Pain in Head Caused due to Migraine

Migraine headaches are often considered debilitating and appear as sharp unbearable pain in the head. Migraine headache is of shooting or stabbing nature and may be experienced on either side of the head or the painful side may alternate. It is generally accompanied with nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light or noise. The pain may last for few hours to few days and may also interfere with daily activities if not treated in time.

Shooting Pain in Head Caused due to Occipital Neuralgia

Neuralgia is pain caused due to nerves and when nerves in the occipital region, at the base of the head, get affected, it can result into occipital neuralgia. Nerves in this area can get trapped, pinched or compressed due to various reasons, leading to sharp, shooting pain in the head. It is often seen after head or neck injuries, cervical disc problems or any growth in the area pressing on the nerves.

Occipital neuralgia may be accompanied by pain that radiates to nearby areas, strained and painful neck muscles, occasional nausea and vomiting, sometimes dizziness may also be noted.

Shooting Pain in Head Caused due to Stroke

Sudden shooting pain in head may at times be felt in case of stroke. Stroke occurs when blood flowing through the arteries that supply the head get blocked. As result, the blood supply to the part gets affected and the brain cells do not get adequate nutrition and oxygen.

Stroke may present itself with sudden severe headache, which may also be accompanied by numbness or weakness of one side of the body, face or arms and differences in speech or vision may be noted. The condition can worsen within a short time and needs immediate medical attention.

Shooting Pain in Head Caused due to Brain Tumor

A tumor in the brain, depending on its location can cause sharp, shooting pain in the head. It is usually caused when a tumor is enlarged enough to exert pressure on nearby structures. Such in may also be associated with other neurological problems like weakness, difficulty in co-ordination or speaking.

Other Causes of Shooting Pain in Head

Some other causes of shooting pain in head may include persistent high blood pressure, sudden shooting headache experienced by eating cold things (ice-cream headache) and rebound effect of overuse of certain medications. Sometimes, lifestyle factors like changes in eating pattern, dehydration, vigorous exercise or excessive strain during intercourse too can lead to sudden sharp headache.

Shooting pain on one side of the head may be felt in giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis), which occurs due to inflammation of the blood vessel lining. It can also cause pain during jaw movements, tenderness of scalp and may even affect vision.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Shooting Pain in Head

Treatment for shooting pain in head depends on the cause. Headaches are generally treated with anti-inflammatory medicines. For some conditions your physician may consider muscles relaxants, anti-consultants, anti-depressants or other options. Appropriate investigations and imaging studies need to be done for proper diagnosis of brain tumor. Treatment usually depends on nature, size and location of the tumor.

Lifestyle Management to Deal with Shooting Pain in Head

Adequate rest, regular exercises and stress management can help in dealing with most types of headaches. Drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet with loads of fruits and vegetables is advisable. It is better to avoid spicy, fried and processed food or sudden changes in lifestyle, sleeping and eating patterns.

Other important considerations include managing high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes can go a long way in dealing with shooting pain in head. Limit intake of caffeine, cut back on alcohol and quit smoking and embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: June 7, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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