Could this occasional stabbing pain in my head be a precursor to stroke?

5 answers | Last updated: Nov 12, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Occasionally, I will have a sharp stabbing head pain on my left side. My husband thinks they could be precursors to a stroke. It does not happen very often and never lasts for more than a few seconds. Can I put his mind at ease and let him know that the stabbing pain in my head does not signify stroke?

Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

This does not sound like a precursor to a stroke.  It sounds more like an "ice pick headache".  They usually respond well to medications.

I would suggest being evaluated by a Neurologist.  An evaluation, and treatment, might shed light on the cause and help alleviate these spells.  Also, if it would set your mind at ease, a head scan could be obtained to make sure there is no stroke risk.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

my stabbing pain is constant for 3-days

Jade1961 answered...

Dr. Castle, Thank you for your succinct answer to the question asked. I too have suffered several strokes and am experiencing the same thing. Thankfully I have an appointment with a very reputable Neurosurgeon in a week, I will mention this to him. God Bless you.

Kathyk4553 answered...

I had a stabbing pain that would wake me up in the middle of the night. When I would drop something and pick it up, my head would throb so bad, I began asking my kids to pick things up for me. I had this for 5 days until I asked a friend who is a nurse about this. She said "rule of thumb, if you have a headache for more than 48 hrs. Go to the ER" When I look back, I realize now that I had other symptoms, ie. confusion understanding & asking them to repeat something. Loss of balance in the slightest way. I went to the DR. who admitted me right away after the CT scan resulted abnormal. I'm 51, active, and grateful my Dr. suggested a CT immediately. Its only been since May on Mother's Day. I get nervous with a slight headache now.

A fellow caregiver answered...

I was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. This was the cause of my near constant headache as well as my "axe in the head migraines"