Shooting Pain in Head That Comes and Goes – Main Causes

The shooting pain in the head that comes and goes is a really annoying problem, a problem that can be caused by various causes, such as some chemicals or a sunburn, but not only. Here are the other possible causes of a shooting headache that you may not be taken into consideration:



This is a very common problem that can affect people of all ages. Some of the symptoms of sinusitis include fever, pain, discomfort in the face, head and teeth, and chronic congestion.

Acute sinusitis may follow a cold or be brought on by cold damp air. Acute attacks can be extremely painful, with shooting headaches that it will make you unable to move the head without pain.

Chronic (long-term) sinusitis gives rise to dull pain, in the forehead and /or the area between eyes and cheekbone, with a continually stuffy feeling in the nose.

Occipital neuralgia

If you suffer from Severe and shooting Pain in the Back of Your Head; then you have Occipital Neuralgia.

Among the symptoms of this condition, we report excruciating pain that starts at the base of the head and spreads to the scalp, pain behind the eyes, inability to tolerate light and pain in the movement of the neck.

The pain is caused by irritation or injury to the nerves including, but not limited to, compression as they travel up the neck and pass through the semispinalis and trapezius muscles. Commonly, the nerves are inflamed and sensitive because they are trapped within the muscles through which they pass. Muscle spasm and pain are often associated with nerve entrapment, which causes localized pain, spasm and muscle cramping.

Occipital neuralgia is usually due to trauma to the occipital nerve, often caused by an auto accident where the head impacts the headrest. Known causes include whiplash type hyperextension injuries, concussive closed head injuries, direct occipital nerve trauma, neuroma formation, or upper cervical root compression (spondylosis or ligamentous hypertrophy). Most patients have no demonstrable lesion.

There was one lady who I read about who had been suffering from headaches for the last 18 years.  So, once again, in my quest for a cure, I saw yet another doctor yesterday – a neurosurgeon that my neurologist referred me to. I have definitely found that there is some sort of stigma attached to visiting specialists on a fairly regular basis -my friends somehow look at me differently, almost like I am a hypochondriac. Anyway, stigma aside, the surgeon is fairly confident that my headaches can be fixed by inserting a nerve stimulator into the back of my head (over the nerve).  It’s a relatively new operation but I trust his confidence and am very hopeful.  Quite a process but if it sorts these headaches out, it will all be worth it.  If anyone has any more information about this procedure, I would appreciate it very much if you could comment on this post.

Trigeminal neuralgia

Another possible cause of burning and shooting sensation in the head is trigeminal neuralgia, a condition that causes acute pain and a burning sensation that can occur without warning and persist for a couple of hours. It is very difficult to predict when symptoms will arise.

Although the pain usually lasts only for two minutes or less, it is considered one of the most excruciating forms of pain ever felt or discovered. It is often triggered by natural facial movements or stimuli, talking, eating, washing the face, brushing the teeth, shaving or touching the face lightly and occurs anytime without warning. One should immediately seek medical help when the pain happens often or is intolerable. Carbamazepine usually the first treatment for TN is an anticonvulsant medication which decreases the ability of the trigeminal nerve to fire off the nerve impulses that cause pain. Else, patients resort to other drug options muscle relaxants and narcotic pain relievers which may be taken briefly for severe series of pain. Unpleasant side effects such as drowsiness, liver problems, blood disorders, nausea and dizziness may occur during such medications.

A brain tumour

A brain tumour comes about when the brain membrane namely the meninges also called the dura matter gets inflamed or irritated. The irritation causes the swelling of these membranes which are highly sensitive. The growth of a tumour in the brain is not a common occurrence and diagnosis of the condition could be difficult.People affected by a brain tumour often complain of headaches or other may display other symptoms associated with the onset of a tumour.

It is hard to differentiate headaches caused by tumours from the common types of headaches caused by lethargy or high-stress levels. Brain Tumor Headaches may be diagnosed if a person who rarely suffers from headaches starts having headaches and experiencing a progression of pain in his head.

If a person has a neurological condition and starts experiencing headaches, this calls for attention since its another signal that the person could be having an attack of a brain tumour.A problem with eyesight, headaches accompanied by seizures, a weakness in a part of the body or any other abnormalities of the neurological system is also some of the symptoms that manifest the presence of a brain tumour.some types of brain tumour infections could also bring with them feelings of nausea in accompaniment with headaches.

In cases where the brain tumours have grown larger, the headaches exhibit a pattern. For instance, the headaches may become more intense at night and decrease in magnitude as the day progresses.Some patients diagnosed with a brain tumour have complained of the headaches waking them from sleep. When a person sleeps, the way he breathes changes as his brains drift into the sleepy state, this process is called hyperventilation. When we sleep, we breath slower and less deep.The volume of carbon dioxide in our blood increases, as a result, a dilation of the blood vessels occurs and the brain starts to swell. This does not signal any cause for alarm in a person who does not have a tumour in the head but to a person with a tumour, the swelling of the brain is too intense that it can wake him or her from sleep. When he wakes the intensity of a headache fades.

In some cases, headaches caused by tumours can be as a result of an accumulation of fluids in the brain. It happens when the flow of fluids in the brain is disrupted causing the accumulation. This accumulation, in turn, causes a build-up of pressure in the head which causes pain. This accumulation is known as hydrocephalus.

A definite way of detecting a tumour growing in the brain is by conducting an MRI. If a person complains of headaches whose characteristics are concerning for a normal headache, imaging to search for a tumour will be the best way to come to a conclusive diagnosis

Other Causes

  • Heart Diseases

According to American Heart Association, Heart diseases may cause a shooting headache indirectly through high blood pressure.

  • Side effects of drugs (Antidepressants)

Using antidepressants may increase chemical serotonin in the brain, this lead to serotonin syndrome which cause a shooting pain in the head that comes and goes.

  • Cluster Headaches.
  • Tension Headaches.

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