Sharp Pain on Side of Head That Comes and Goes


Many of us have experienced an occasional headache, but when a sharp pain strikes on the side of your head, it can be particularly distressing. These intermittent, sharp headaches can be puzzling and sometimes worrisome. In this article, we will delve into the possible causes, symptoms, and when to seek medical attention for those sharp head pains that come and go.

Understanding Sharp Headaches

Types of Headaches:

There are numerous types of headaches, including tension headaches, migraines, and cluster headaches. A sharp, intermittent headache on one side of the head may be associated with various conditions.

Cluster Headaches:

Cluster headaches are notorious for their severity and one-sided nature. These intense, stabbing pains often occur around the eye or temple and can come in clusters, lasting from 15 minutes to three hours. Cluster headaches tend to recur at the same time each day and are typically one-sided.

Ice Pick Headaches:

Ice pick headaches, also known as “primary stabbing headache,” are characterized by sudden and intense jabs of pain in the head. They usually last only a few seconds but can occur repeatedly throughout the day.

Occipital Neuralgia:

Occipital neuralgia is a condition that causes shooting, stabbing, or shock-like pain in the back of the head, often on one side. It can be triggered by irritation or compression of the occipital nerves.

Possible Causes of Intermittent Sharp Headaches


Migraines can cause sharp, throbbing pains that are often one-sided. Some migraines can be accompanied by aura, a set of neurological symptoms that may include visual disturbances.


Sinus infections or sinusitis can lead to pain on one side of the head, often near the cheeks and eyes. The pain may worsen when you bend forward.

Tension Headaches:

Although tension headaches are usually described as a constant, dull pressure, they can sometimes manifest as sharp pains. These pains can affect one side of the head and may be triggered by stress or muscle tension.

Trigeminal Neuralgia:

Trigeminal neuralgia is a rare condition that causes severe, shooting facial pain, which can extend to the side of the head. It is often triggered by simple movements like chewing or talking.

Occipital Neuralgia:

As mentioned earlier, occipital neuralgia can lead to sharp, shooting pains in the back of the head. This condition is often caused by irritation or inflammation of the occipital nerves.

When to Seek Medical Attention

New or Severe Symptoms:

If you experience new, severe, or persistent headaches, especially those that are sharp and one-sided, it’s important to consult a pain management doctor. They can help determine the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

Changes in Symptoms:

If your headache patterns change, such as increasing in frequency, duration, or intensity, it’s a signal to seek medical attention. Changes in symptoms may indicate an evolving condition that needs evaluation.

Associated Symptoms:

Pay attention to other symptoms that accompany your sharp head pain. Vision changes, numbness, weakness, or confusion may indicate a more serious issue and should be evaluated promptly.

Head Injury:

If your sharp head pain is the result of a recent head injury, it’s essential to seek immediate medical attention, as it could indicate a concussion or more severe trauma.

Treatment Options

The treatment of sharp, intermittent headaches depends on the underlying cause. Treatment options may include:

Pain Relief:

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide relief for some headache types.


For severe and recurring headaches, prescription medications, including triptans, anticonvulsants, or preventive medications, may be recommended.

Lifestyle Modifications:

In some cases, lifestyle changes such as stress management, dietary adjustments, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can help reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches.

Nerve Blocks or Injections:

For certain conditions like occipital neuralgia, nerve blocks or injections can provide relief by targeting the affected nerves.

Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy and relaxation techniques may be beneficial for tension-related headaches.


Sharp, intermittent headaches on the side of the head can be distressing, but they are often manageable with the right diagnosis and treatment. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional if you experience these types of headaches, especially if they are severe, persistent, or accompanied by concerning symptoms. Proper evaluation can help determine the underlying cause and lead to effective management or treatment options to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life.

I am a social media geek. I spend most of my time trying new things on social media. I love to make friends so much that I would like to connect with you right now. Kindly hit me up after checking out this article.