Everyone experiences shooting pain in head at some point in their life; it is most commonly called a headache. Minor headaches are able to be relieved by using over the counter pain medications, ingesting some form of caffeine, or getting some sleep. However if you have a more severe headache that does not improve with any of these remedies, then it may be a symptom of a more severe medical issue such as a stroke, tumor, or blood clot.
The good news is that these medical issues are rare. Even though they are rare, if you are experiencing an unusual headache, it is best that you consult a physical for proper medical care and treatment.
What Does the Shooting Pain in Head Indicate?
Migraines plague most of the population without them even realizing it. Most migraine sufferers believe that they have a sinus or tension headache instead of a migraine.
How does it feel like: Migraines usually occur during the evening or sleep after a long period of fatigue, depression, sluggishness, irritability or even restlessness. Most people who suffer from migraines complain about vision impairments such as sparkles, halos, wavy lines, flashing lights, and even loss of vision.
Some migraines begin with a neurological symptom called an aura, although most of the time they begin without one. The aura at the beginning of a migraine may even produce slight numbness or a tingling sensation on one side of the body, the face, or a hand. It is possible to suffer from a migraine and only have the aura without any accompanying shooting pain in head.
When migraines begin without an aura, there is usually a severe pain located around one eye or temple, which eventually moves to the back of the head. This pain is accompanied by throbbing pulsating sensations that may also lead to nausea, watering eyes, a running nose, or congestion.
The symptoms of migraine headaches are often misdiagnosed as sinus or tension headaches because they are the same, however if the headache persists without elevating within a few hours and you have repeated occurrences then you most likely have a migraine.
What can be done: If you are able to distinguish that you have a migraine early in its development, then you can generally relieve the symptoms with rest or a bit of massage therapy. However, most of the time medications are needed to reduce the migraine attack.
2. Tension-Type Headaches
Tension headaches affect about three fourths of all adults. Tension headaches range in severity from mild to moderate and are the most common type of headache experienced by adults. Some may even have repeated occurrences of three to four days a week.
How does it feel like: The shooting pain in head will be dull and feel as though it is squeezing your head on both sides if you are experiencing a tension headache. Along with the squeezing pain you may also experience an ache in your shoulders and neck, fatigue, emotional stress, or other muscle and joint pains. Most of the time, the aches and pains will subside in about 20 minutes to one hour.
What can be done: Usually, over the counter pain medications will help relieve a tension headache. Whenever you use medications, be sure that you are not taking more than the recommended dosage on the label. Other ways that you can release the tension headache is by applying a heating pad, taking a warm shower, getting some sleep, or getting a message to loosen the tense muscles.
3. Ice Pick Headaches
The “ice pick headache” is one that is a stabbing headache located in one region. Most of the time, they are short with a frighteningly severe stabbing sensation. The brief, shooting pain in your head will usually only last from five to thirty seconds.
They can be frightening because they seem to come out of nowhere, can occur in any region of head, and feel as though someone is shoving an ice pick into your skull. They disappear before you can figure out what is causing them and they may even be located behind your ear.
4. Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches are usually caused by acute sinusitis. The symptoms of a sinus headache include pain around the forehead, nose, eyes, upper cheeks, and in the upper teeth. The pain in these areas will worsen when you lean forward. Treating the sinusitis will also relieve the symptoms of a sinus headache.
5. Medication Headaches
Headaches may be caused by many medications as a side effect; ironically enough many headache medications have a side effect of headaches as well. If you are experiencing headaches more than 10-15 days each month while using over the counter or prescription medications, then you most likely have a medication headache caused by medication overuse.
6. Cluster Headache
Cluster headaches are indicated by an intense pain that reaches its worst in about five minutes. It may last up to 1.5 hours and return several times throughout the day.
The most common symptom of a cluster headache is severe agitation. People who suffer from cluster headaches may pace the floor, scream, or even bang their heads against the wall.
7. Brain Tumor
One symptom of a brain tumor is a sharp, shooting pain in head, usually the left side. Since a brain tumor shares the space inside your skull with your brain, it may disrupt your normal brain activities.
You may also discover that there is added pressure within the skull, your brain may shift, or you may experience damage to nerves and brain tissue. The amount of pain is directly related to the size of the tumor.
The best treatment for this type of pain is to consult your physician to create a treatment plan. If you are experiencing extreme vision issues, the inability to maintain your balance, dizzy spells, loss of hearing, difficulties speaking, or other behavior changes, it is important that you consult your physician.
8. Giant Cell Arteritis
Giant cell arteritis could a cause of sharp pain in the left side of your head. This occurs when the arterial lining in your head is inflamed, causing a severe pain. Most of the time you will notice the pain is located to the area around your temple.
Some of the most common symptoms of giant cell arteritis are a persistent sharp pain, tenderness, pain in the jaw when chewing, a fever, and even weight loss. If not treated, it may cause other health complications such as a stroke or blindness.
9. Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia also causes a sharp shooting pain in head over the left side. A sharp, stabbing pain that feels like electric shock around the face is a symptom of trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve disorder that most commonly affect older adults.
Multiple sclerosis, entrapment, and inflammation of the trigeminal nerve are all causes of trigeminal neuralgia. Along with the sharp pain you may also experience short bouts of intense pain located in one region or pain that intensifies over time.
10. Occipital Neuralgia
The occipital nerves run from the top of your spinal cord up through your scalp, when these nerves are inflamed or injured, you have what is called occipital neuralgia. This shooting pain in head may be confused with a migraine because it has many similar symptoms. However, it is a specific disorder that needs appropriate diagnoses in order to have proper treatment.
You may feel a severe pain that is jabbing into the back of your head or neck. That pain may also be accompanied by one, or any combination, of other symptoms such as pain on one or both sides of the head, a pain behind one eye, a severe light sensitivity, a tender scalp, or pain caused by moving the neck.
11. Exertional Headache
Most commonly described as an explosive, pulsating pain, exertional headaches are caused by sinus disease or subarachnoid hemorrhage. The pressure builds up from these ailments cause the exertional headache. Although most people who have an exertional headache do not have either of the prior diseases, it is important to consult your physician if you have a sharp, pulsating pain in your head.
What to Do
Headaches, for most people, are simply a temporary derailment from your normal daily activities. It is very easy to reduce headaches with a simple change in your lifestyle habits. Many relaxation techniques, yoga, massages, and rest will help most cases.
However, if the headache persists, there are over the counter and prescription medications that will help relieve the symptoms. If you experience any of the symptoms listed throughout this article, it is important that you consult your physician to ensure that you properly treat your headache.