What Can Cause a Sudden Sharp Pain in the Head?

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A sudden, sharp pain in the head can be caused by an ice pick headache, also known as a primary stabbing headache or ophthalmodynia, according to Teri Robert for About.com. This is likely the cause of sudden, sharp head pain when there are no other symptoms.

An ice pick headache is described as a stabbing and/or sharp temporary pain occurring once or multiple times per day at irregular intervals, notes Cleveland Clinic. The pain is most commonly felt near the eye or temple area. Ice pick headaches are experienced more frequently by individuals who also experience migraine or cluster headaches. If needed, the pain can be treated with pain medicine such as indomethacin.

Ice pick headaches usually last between five and 30 seconds, explains Robert. They begin and disappear without warning. Sudden, sharp head pain is probably an ice pick headache if it occurs as a single stab or repetitive stabs; if the stabs occur for up to a few seconds and recur with varying frequency; if the stabs are felt mostly or only in the temple, orbit or parietal area; and if there are no other symptoms. Ice pick headaches are referred to as a primary headache since there is no underlying cause. If there is an underlying cause to the head pain, it is a secondary headache.