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Severe stabbing electrical pain in head

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I know this post is very long, but I would really appreciate people reading it and giving me any suggestions you can think of. We're hitting a brick wall here.

My mom is in her 50's and periodically has extremely sharp, stabbing pain in her head. When she was a child (possibly a teenager), she would have 1 or 2 pains at a time but never more than that, and it only happened a handful of times. Then, they went away and she cannot remember having any pain until probably about 6 years or so ago. At the time, she was working in a stressful position, and was under the impression that was causing the pain. The doctor at the time claimed it was a migraine and put her on Fiorcet. It took care of the pain perfectly. Later (a year or more), she was prescribed the same thing (Fiorcet) by another doctor, and that time, it had no effect at all. She was then put on Trileptal, which worked great also, but was later taken off due to kidney problems. She was on Imitrex for a short period of time, when doctors thought it was a migraine, but that never worked at all. She DOES NOT have any typical migraine symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound. There's also not a specific setting that seems to trigger the pain. It has come during stressful times, but not always (less than 20% of the time). It's woken her up in the middle of the night. We can be having a great day doing basically anything and the pain will start. There doesn't seem to be a specific trigger. We've thought about food or drink reactions, but she eats and drinks pretty much the same things, and we haven't been able to find a pattern with the pain. I've looked up different types of migraines and headaches tonight and haven't been able to find anything that fits perfectly. The one thing that comes closest is Trigeminal Neuralgia, however, her pain is NEVER in her face. It never affects her face at all. She describes it as feeling like electricity running in a nerve along the side of her head, I think the general area is *usually* 1 to 2 inches above her ear, roughly. She's had it on both sides of her head, but I don't believe it's ever changed positions during an attack. She's currently having an attack which has lasted about 36 hours so far, and this time it's behind her right ear, where it's never been before. At one point today, she touched behind her ear, applied very slight pressure, and it caused a pain to shoot through. However, when she tried to repeat it later this evening, pain did not shoot through when she was applying pressure. At one point, she bent her ear forward and that caused the pain to go through, but later when she did the same thing, the pain did not appear. At times, coughing can cause the pain to shoot through. Sometimes she can lay down and nap, and when she wakes up it's gone. This time, the attack has lasted 36 hours, through sleep, rest and regular activities, and the longest during this time that she's been pain free was about 30 minutes today. Other than that, it's been constant. The most her other attacks have lasted have been 12 hours, and usually they are much shorter. Other times, she'll get 1 or 2 pains, and then it goes away and won't develop into a bigger attack. She can go months without getting one, and other times, for no apparent reason, she can get a few a month. Like I said, she describes the pain as stabbing or as if you are being electrocuted. It's never dull, throbbing, band-like, or anything besides a stabbing/electrocution sensation. She's taken Percocet and Vicodin, neither of which have been much help, especially this time. Ice packs usually take care of the pain, and that's been the ONLY relief she's had for this attack. This time, when the ice comes off, the pain immediately returns.

She's convinced it's not a migraine, and she's been unable to get any satisfactory help from several doctors. Several said it was migraines, without doing testing to support the theory or rule out other things, and a neurologist said he wasn't sure and maybe she was "just wired wrong." Her last insurance was Kaiser, and she was unable to get far with testing she wanted because they are the provider and the insurance, so if they don't see fit for the test, they won't approve it. She's currently without insurance (just changed jobs), but she will be covered the first of July and will continue trying to get a diagnosis from yet another new doctor.

I'm hoping someone out there might have some ideas. Doctors have been no help and we've been brainstorming and researching on Google, but have come up empty handed. Thank you so much in advance!
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replied June 23rd, 2009
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Wow! My heart goes out to your mother. I think she should demand that they do an MRI or CT of her head. I don't understand how they can say it's not medically necessary when she is suffering for so many days at a time. You said the pain sometimes shot from behind her ear, could she possibly have a neck injury? Sometimes a disc problem in the neck can cause horrible headaches. These just seem so severe to me. Another thought that comes to mind is menopause can cause horrible headaches. I don't know or if you know if she has gone through or entered menopause yet but a lot of changes happen in a woman's body to cause her much discomfort. Then there are some people who are just prone to headaches and suffer for years. Again, I would demand an MRI with a new doctor and hopefully they can find some answers to make her feel better. There are so many different things that can cause severe headaches and she deserves some answers. These insurance companies are so stupid. If they would just properly test people instead of having them go from one doctor to the next they would probably spend less money.

I wish you and your mom some good luck. Please keep us posted.
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replied June 23rd, 2009
wow thats awfull i just recently had an episode similar to that. i was putting a pool up for my kids and all of a sudden i got a shooting stabbn like pain from bottom of my head that went to the top and then to like maybe an half inch above my ear.it was nt a headache or migrain. i went to emergency and had a cat scan done and they said everything was fine.the doctor just told me to follow up with my regular doctor. they gave me ativan when i was in there and it helped but today its back again. I will pray that your mom feels better n gets answers to her headaches.
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replied June 23rd, 2009
Thanks for the replies so far. I don't believe she would have a neck injury. Nothing has happened that would cause one, unless it would be something as simple as turning it wrong during sleep or something. Judging from the times it happens, and doesn't happen, I don't think that's the cause. She does have a pinched nerve, but it's in her lower back and I would think the pain would come more frequently if it was from that. She had a hysterectomy many years ago, so it's not a menopause situation. I agree that insurance companies are absurd. We're hoping for answers from the new doctor and I'll keep you guys posted. Anymore suggestions and greatly appreciated, thanks!
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replied July 9th, 2009
Hey backstreet what happened now to your mother? sometimes ifeel an electricity going to my right head 1-2 times but it just lasted for 5-10 seconds
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replied August 13th, 2009
Electrical headache
I had that same shooting pain, but luckily mine went away within a couple days with plenty of water and some over the counter pain meds. Good luck.
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replied August 26th, 2009
Sorry about your mother. I have had the same types of pain for over a year. I would ask for an MRI to rule anything out. Amitriptyline should help GREATLY, might have to take about 8 p.m. to feel ok the next day. My doc had me on 25 mg and it worked. Only problem with that med is it caused me to feel agitated or on edge somehow so I quit taking---head pains are starting to come back. But meds can affect everyone differently so it would be WELL worth a trial of this med, not sedating, etc, like some may be and it definitely worked for me. Unfortunately, no explanation for the pains (mine started out with left side face numbness). Hope your mom is feeling better!
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replied August 27th, 2009
Sorry to here about your mum, even though you don't think that it could be her neck, I would advise that you check it out. I suffered the same head pain that even went into the lobs of my ears and my ears would even peel. I went to many different doctors with no luck, then finaly one asked me if I had hurt my neck I said no, because I didn't think that I had. He ordered a MRI and fare enought I had a perforated disc in my neck. with physo treatment and daily neck exercises and watching what I do I have not had anymore pain in my head for around 2 years now. Still don't know what I did to my neck.
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replied October 25th, 2009
Sorry to hear about your mother.I too is going through the same headaces ( i wish it was just a head ache)I been having these sucide headaches (that is what i call them) for 10yrs.I have been to atleast 12 doctors in 10yrs and they all say it is just a migraines.I too do not belive they r just migraines.They will last from 2 hours too 36 hours.There are times i do not have them for a couple of months.I pray that they will find what is causing the pain.My friend told me she was watching medical mysteries and there was a woman on there with the same systems.They did a kt scan with the die and found a tumor.They remove the tumor and they lady has been pain free for years.I would love to be pain free.It is like my migraines are controlling my life lets me know if i can have a normal day or not.I feel like doctors are not taking me serious or even care becuase they just keep giving me pills that do not work.I just want to have my life back and not worry if or when will it start back up again.I hope your mom finds out what is causing hers and if i find the right doctor and find what is causing mine i will repost my info and hope it will help her.Take care and god bless you!
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replied November 4th, 2009
Hey everybody, Sorry about you mother, I woulden't understand how frustrating and anoying insurance must be like as I live in the UK and so we have the NHS, I wish that barak obama would give America NHS too!
I too get these pains, Im 18 years old and started getting these last year August-September. So I was only 16. (DOB:02.10:91) These pains are so frustrating and you mother is not alone. Seen as we have NHS I'm gonna try and do every test and see as many doctors as it takes to get a diagnosis and treatment for this.
I am currently at college studying IT so I am staring at a PC alot. And I am there 17 hours a week and work 21 hours a week, And My doctor said it could be stress, but last year when I got these pains I was not under any stress as I finished school, had no job and wasent at college so I had no reason for stress.
If any doctor says there is nothing rong clearly does not no what he is talking about, because this is not normal! There has got to be some explanation.
I hit the back of my head when I was 7 on a brick wall and the front left of my head on the 2nd october at my 18th birthday party, I had too much to drink and fell head first down the stairs and hit my head on the table at the bottom, I blacked out for at least 10 seconds as I do not remember hitting the table or being turned over, and after this I have had more pains which tend to be on the left side, which makes me think I've done something to my head after I hit the table.
Im seeing my GP the 11th of November, Also when I saw my GP before she sent my for bloodtests, which were fine and eye tests as I was born with a congenital squint and 2D vision so they assumed it was my eyes. but clearly not as I got discharged from the eye doctor.

If I find anything out from the GP, or if she sends me to a Neurologist I sha'll let you all no what tey say if they have any ideas.
Hope your Mum is well. Take care. Charlie.
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replied August 22nd, 2010
My father has similar electrical shooting pain in his forehead, in between his eyes. I will ask him to try sth u guys tried.
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replied January 11th, 2011
Electrical type severe pain head/ears
Backstreet: I also have been experiencing that type of pain. I found the following information that might be the answer. Please read the following: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/occipit alneuralgia/occipitalneuralgia.htm

SK/Tallahassee
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replied May 25th, 2012
Electrical head pain
I am really sorry to hear of your mother's head pain. I am 47 and was diagnosed many years ago with demylinating peripheral neuropathy. The way your mother describes her pain is exactly like head pain I get periodically. It does feel electrical and it really hurts. I have been to many many neurologist and have come to the conclusion that it possibly could be neuropathy. Most people have it in there feet or hands. It is not unheard of to be in in someone's head. My illness is certainly not what your mother has although the neuropathy part of my illness does cause the pains you have described. Sometimes I even get needle stick pain and burning pain in my head as well. I would not give up and keep taking your Mom to the Neurologist until you get her help. It is unlikely to be trigeminal neuralgia. Her face would be hurting. The pain your Mom is feeling is real and very intense. Until a proper treatment is found a pain specialist is certainly needed. It is unlikely that anything will show in a MRI or MRA. A spect scan might show something. Unfortunately, people that have this kind of neuropathy it is hard to diagnose. It will not show in blood work. Finding the right dic us key here. I would recommend that she keep a diary of her episodes and see if there is any patterns. Heat and over exertion make mine worse. Cool showers or a cold pack sometimes calms mine down too. I wish I could help more. let me know how she is.
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