Thursday, November 21, 2013

Just What Any of Us Needs: A New Symptom

For the past few weeks, I've noticed a new kind of pain.  It's headache pain, but the odd part about it is that it comes on suddenly, hurts a very small point on my head for about 1-3 minutes, then is gone just as suddenly as it arrived.  

The first time, I just assumed the weather changes might have triggered some migraine action.  Then, of course, because it was so sudden and intense, I worried the worst about strokes or tumors or whatever horrible thing might be responsible for sudden pain in the head.  I believe the first one was in my left temple.  I remember because I immediately started pressing into it with my finger to lessen the pain.  Then it went away.  Magic finger?  I was glad it was gone, anyway.  

Then another one occurred maybe a day later, but in a spot behind my left eyebrow, near the nose.  I wondered again about this new troubling symptom and the awful possibilities.  Then I stopped myself from going too far down the and was just grateful when it was gone.  

But then it kept happening.  I am not positive, but thus far, all of them have been landing on the left side of my head, though in about four different spots: the temple, the eyebrow/eye area, behind the ear, and near the nape.  These are all spots that have all been affected by migraine and other headaches I've had in the past.  They may be places where muscle spasms and trigger points have done their dirty work and caused pain.

Because I could not get the thought of disaster out of my mind, I did some research to see if I should worry.  What I discovered was that this quick headache thing has a name.  Two, actually.  The nickname is "ice pick headaches", but the clinical name is "primary stabbing headache". After Googling a description of what I was experiencing, and expecting to find ties to strokes or aneurysms, I found the names on this helpful page (note there are 3 pages to the article:

It was a relief to find that people have been having this fleeting head pain and although it's cause is poorly understood, it does not seem to be a serious threat to my health or my life.  Apparently, this is something that a lot of migraine sufferers also experience.  Check and check.

Armed with both the clinical name and the nickname of this symptom, I thought I'd try to learn more about it from others.  First, I posted about it in a Fibromyalgia group asking if others were dealing with this.  I also had a doctor appointment recently and brought it up to her.  What I found in both of these cases, is that this is not a well known symptom, even in the medical community.  Despite my explanations, people seemed to see or hear "headache" and go right into discussing migraine and other typical headache experiences and treatments.  

This is not something I am treating, other than applying pressure for a minute, because it comes and goes inside of five minutes.  The doctor had not heard of it either, and shared a personal story about her own troubling headaches that turned out to have an unexpected cause.  She suggested going to my primary doctor about it, but I'm not sure what help he would be if he hadn't heard of this either. I'll see how it goes.  It's only been a short time that this has been happening.  If it gets ridiculous, I'll check with the doctor.  I just hate going through all that to get a shrug and a guess.  I get enough of that with the Fibro.

Have you experienced these quick, minute-long "ice pick headaches"?  Have you been able to figure out a trigger or cause, or a way to prevent them?  Feel free to leave me a comment.