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information on orphan neurological symptoms and conditions

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List of conditions covered

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Icepick Headache

Icepick headaches, also known as primary stabbing headaches, are sudden, very painful headaches which come on suddenly and last for seconds at a time.  


The headaches is described as ‘stabbing’ or ‘jolting’, and the patient may be quite disabled during the attack.  The pain usually occurs around the eye or temple.  There should be no other neurological symptoms.  The headaches subside suddenly, and often recur irregularly, sometimes up to 50 times a day.  


Who gets these headaches?


Adults, both male and female.  They are rare in children or adolescents, and become more prevalent in middle age.  They are more common in people with other headache disorders such as migraine or cluster headache.




Icepick headache itself is a benign condition and needs no tests.  If you have never had a headache like this before however, you should consult your doctor, as other serious conditions causing headache need to be excluded.




The headaches themselves are too short for treatment to be useful.  If the patient is having frequent, disabling headaches, then a tablet to prevent the attacks may be tried.  The medication most frequently used is Indometacin.


Ice pick headache is painful but benign

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