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OUCH(UK) Organisation for the Understanding of Cluster Headache

Primary Stabbing Headache

Primary stabbing headache (also previously known as idiopathic stabbing headache, ice-pick headache, jabs and jolts, ophthalmodynia periodica) manifests itself in very brief, sharp or jabbing pain in the head (not usually the face), either as a single stab or a series of brief repeated volleys of pain.

The pain itself generally lasts a fraction of a second but can last for up to one minute in some sufferers, and may move from one area to another in either the same or opposite side of the head. The cranial autonomic symptoms associated with cluster headache and other trigeminal autonomic cephalgias are normally absent in primary stabbing headache.

As with other shorter lasting primary headaches, primary stabbing headache tends to respond well to a medication called indomethacin (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).