Shooting Pain in Head

Shooting Pain in Head (Right, Left & Back) Causes and When to See a Doctor

Headaches usually come in different forms to different people. Shooting pain in the head is a type of headache that is quite severe. Sometimes sharp shooting pain in the health can be something not to worry about but in some instances, it can be a serious medical condition.

Shooting pain in your head can affect your daily activities and cause a lot of discomforts. You can experience a sharp pain in the left, right, the top and backside of the head depending on the underlying cause. Observe the symptoms carefully and inform your doctor about them.

In this post, you will be able to understand some of the underlying causes where the majority are minor illness and some life-threatening. You can also learn some situations that may require you to visit your doctor for immediate medical attention.

Is a Sharp Shooting Pain in Head a Cause for Concern?

According to doctors on WebMD, headaches are the common source of head pains. You may experience sharp pain on the left, right, top and back of the head.

Most headaches may come suddenly or slowly. You may experience a sharp, throbbing or shooting pain. According to doctors on mayo clinic, the sharp shooting pain in the head may radiate your neck, teeth, or behind your eyes.

However, most of these pains usually cease after some hours and there is no need to get worried. In case of sharp pains on one side that does come and go could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Therefore, it is important to visit your doctor in case of sharp pains in the head that emanate from one side and they stay for a long time. This will help your doctor to identify the cause at early stages and offer proper treatment.

Why Do You Get Sharp Pains In The Head?

The tissues of the brain do not contain nerves and this is the reason you cannot experience pain in the brain. According to the medical experts in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, you experience pain due to a series of nerves in your head.

The nerves react to sensation from your scalp, blood vessels around your skull, the brain’s lining, and the face leading to the sharp pains in the head.

Sharp pain in the head and temple can also occur due to the reaction of the nerves from the stress, medicines, or certain foods. The nerves from the head are also connected to major organs and this might be the cause of nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and trouble concentrating.

What Can Cause Shooting Pain in the Head?

Depending on the cause of the severe pains in the head, it can be felt from any side of the head. Some of the potential causes of sharp shooting pains in the temple or sides of the head include

A tension headache

This is the common cause of shooting sharp pain in the head despite there being many different types of headaches. A tension headache can be experienced by many people at some point in life.

In case you suffer from a tension headache, you may experience a severe band-like head pain or a headache around the forehead. You may also feel like the head is being squeezed from all sides.

What causes tension headaches? There are many factors that trigger this type of a headache. The shooting pain in the head could be due to emotional stress, anxiety and feeling tensed. Eye strain due to prolonged exposure to direct light from TV can also cause a tension headache.

On the other hand, you can experience sharp head pain due to excessive drinking of alcohol, smoking cigarettes and even drinking a lot of coffee. You can also experience sharp shooting pain in the head due to an infection of your sinuses.


You should not get worried due to a tension headache since it can be treated by use of simple remedies over the counter such as analgesics or painkillers. Some of the common prescription drugs are tramadol, aceclofenac, diclofenac or ibuprofen.

You can also sleep in a quiet room for some minutes in order to relax the pain in the nerves. You can apply a cold compress on the forehead to reduce the throbbing head pains.

Ice pick headaches

This type of a headache is also known as stabbing headache. The throbbing head pain lasts for few seconds and it affects one side of the head. You may also experience severe jolts behind one of your eyes.

According to Dr. William Blahd on WebMD, ice pick headaches are not caused by a serious medical condition. Generally, they are caused by certain conditions that are triggered by stress, bright lights or sudden movements.


The use of NSAIDS or Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help in the treatment of shooting pain in the head instantly. Therefore, there is no need to get worried because of the situation since it can also be relieved by having adequate rest.

However, it is recommended to consult your doctors in case you have a serious of shooting pains in the head that comes and go. This will help to rule out serious medical conditions.

A migraine

This is a type of a headache that mainly affects one side of the head. It causes severe throbbing pulsating pain. It may also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, tingling in the head and sensitivity to light or sound.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the severe throbbing pain in the head occurs due to abnormal brain activity. This affects the nerves and blood vessels in the lining of your brain.

According to medical research by doctors from the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, there are two types of a migraine. A migraine with aura can lead to dizziness, flashing lights, blind spots and tingling of hands or face.

On the other hand, migraine without aura only results in a sudden sharp pain on one side of the head. It rarely results in any vision changes or other neurological symptoms.


Essential oils have helped to relief sharp pain in the head effectively. Some of the common essential oils are peppermint, lavender, or chamomile. You can drink adequate water in order to remain hydrated.

A study published in the European Journal Neurology found that increasing water intake can help to prevent headaches. Water helps to reduce the length and intensity of this type of a headache.

Brain Tumor

It causes sharp pain in the head due to the application of pressure on the nerves and blood vessels inside your skull. Therefore, severe headache due to brain tumor occurs mostly in the morning.

The head pain can be made worse by coughing, sneezing, or exercising. According to medical research by doctors from Cancer Research UK, persistent head pains could be due to brain tumors.


It is recommended to consult your doctor for immediate medical attention since most of these symptoms are severe. Early treatment will help to relieve sharp pain in the head.

A brain aneurysm

The type of a headache is marked by a sudden severe sharp pain. This condition could be a life-threatening condition and it could require immediate medical attention.

According to doctors on WebMD, the sharp pain in the head is due to leaking or ruptured blood vessel around the lining of the brain. This condition could lead to a stiff neck, nausea, drooping eyelid, confusion, and loss of consciousness if it remains untreated.


The only cure for this type of a headache is to visit your doctor immediately especially if you experience symptoms such as severe shooting head pain among others. Your doctor will examine the state and offer proper medical care.


A severe headache is the early sign of stroke in the body. This body condition occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. It can lead to brain damage and paralyzed body.

According to doctor’s research from the Stroke Association, stroke can also be dictated by signs such as confusion, vision problems, loss of balance, and severe headaches.


It is recommended to visit your doctor for early treatment of stroke when you experience the initial symptoms. However, you can reduce the chances of getting stroke by being physically active, controlling your weight, eat healthily, and take any medication that you have been prescribed.


This is a condition that results in both inflammation and swelling of the brain. It is a condition that is caused by microbial infections. Once infected, you may experience sudden shooting pain in head and other symptoms that are similar to Meningitis.

According to Dr. Tim Kenny on WebMD, shooting pain in the head due to Encephalitis can also be caused by the herpes simplex virus, chickenpox, virus, and the flu.

It is therefore advisable to seek prompt treatment since the condition can result in brain damage in case it is not treated early. Always visit your doctor in case you notice the symptoms.

Trigeminal neuralgia

The exact cause of the condition is unknown but it is linked to a condition known as an idiopathic condition. It results in shooting pain in head both at the temple and the sides.

The stabbing pain in the head can also be brought about by simple touching during shaving, or by applying makeup or by simply brushing your teeth.

The condition is quite common among people of age 50 years and above. It can be treated by use of anticonvulsant drugs and antispasmodic drugs in order to get rid of the sharp shooting pain in the head.

Occipital neuralgia

This is a type of a headache that usually results in a stabbing pain in the back of the head. The sharp pain occurs due to irritation of the occipital nerves that run from the top of the neck to the back of your head.

According to Neurologist, Dr. Danette C. Taylor on mayo clinic, the sharp pain in the head due to the condition is caused by an injury on the back of head, arthritis, tight neck muscles, or spinal damage.

Some of the common treatments of occipital neuralgia involve the use of a heat pack, neck massage, physical therapy and adequate rest. Consult your doctor in case the symptoms are severe.

Other causes

Some of the other causes of sharp shooting pain in the head are considered minor and can be treated using home remedies like the application of cold compress. These causes include:

  • Eating something cold
  • Cluster headaches
  • Severe hangover
  • Sinusitis

Diagnosis and Treatment of Shooting Pain in Head

The treatment and diagnosis of shooting pain in the head depending on the underlying cause. Minor headaches are treated by use of anti-inflammatory medicines.

In case of a brain tumor, you may require proper investigations and imaging studies in order to diagnose the state of the condition. Treatment usually depends on nature, size, and location of the tumor.

You May Also Like:
Bump on Back of Head
Do Face Tattoo Hurt?
Birthmark in Eye 

When to See a Doctor about Shooting Pain in Head

Generally, headaches and sharp head pains in most cases are not symptoms of a serious medical condition.

However, according to the medical research done by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it is advisable to see your doctor in the following situations:

  • In case of a stiff neck that accompanies a sudden, severe headache.
  • When you experience nausea, vomiting, or a fever and severe head pains
  • In case of stabbing head pain after a head injury.
  • When you experience seizures, shortness of breath, loss of sensations or weakness in any part of your body.
  • When you have a drooping eye or eyelid with a severe headache.


  1. Shooting Pain in Head causes you never knew:
  2. Understanding Sharp Pains in the Head:
  3. Sharp Pain in Head:
  4. What Can Cause Shooting Pain in the Head?
  5. What Causes Headaches on the Left Side?
  6. What Causes a Sharp Pain in Left Side of the Head?