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Brain & Nervous System Disorders Message Board

Brain & Nervous System Disorders Board Index

Hi all just want to warn people that short (10-15 seconds) sharp stabbing pains to the head can be a very significant sign that a brain tumor is present. My 18yo son was having these numerous times a day - and each time we took him to the doctor they would insinuate that perhaps he was getting a migraine or as they mainly come on after any physical activity, exertion headaches. He had suffered with this for some time and then last tuesday got a massive headache from nowhere at 11pm and began throwing up saying his head was going to explode...he could barely walk and so i took him to hospital. By the time we got there (15 minutes) his lips and eyelids and entire face began to swell. They immediately got him a cat scan which revealed a 3cm diametre tumor on his brain with a 12cm diametre cyst overlying it. The pressure on the brain was so much so that they did not think he would make it to the operating room. Thank god he did survive and is making a remarkable recovery. If not for an observant dr that insisted on a cat scan he would not be with us today. My son also had other problems such as vertigo, dizziness and loss of balance - but this was ALWAYS put down to an ear problem. So PLEASE if you experience these 'short sharp pains' to the head - please insist on a catscan or MRI as even though it could be nothing at all - it could also very well save your life!!

I scoured the net many times looking for information on short sharp stabbing pains to head and found numerous people enquiring about the same thing - but with no results, other than 'exertion headaches' hopefully this post may get others to insist on getting a catscan - as this was the major symptom to my sons tumor.

His tumor was a pilocytic astrocytoma, which is relatively benign (can change if not caught) although the tumor was not the immediate risk to his life last week, rather the overlying cyst and pressure on brain was, it could of had potentially fatal consequences if not acted upon so quickly. This tumor generally affects younger children (my son was just unlucky to get it at his age), and if picked up upon early enough can have an excellent cure rate. My boy will now have MRIs regularly (as although most of the tumor has been removed - residual cancer cells are still there) just to make sure it does not get aggresive - if any changes come about he will get hit with radiation and chemo to blast the rest of the tumor away, at present they say has already been thru enough will just watch and see.

Hi Cindy, I was curious on what kind of sharp pains
was it? Like Bad to a point where you cant stand
it that much or was it like light pains that were
describes as sharp because i started taking Zoloft
for anxiety/panic attacks for a month now, but when
i started about the second wee of taking it i had
got this weird sharp kind of feeling at the top left
center of my head and it was not a bad pain at all it
was only for a second or two but came and went
but the more i thought about it because i was worried,
it seemed to come and go again but was never real
sharp or real painful but i did get to a point to where
i was in the emergency room about it and was a bit
scared, and they gave me a little neuro test like, walking
on the tips of my toes to the ball of my feet and checked
my arms legs and everything else to looking in my
eyes for anykind of pressure to whatever else has to do
with the brain, and said that it is all anxiety related.
The reasone for asking is because i want to know how
serious it is as the doctors said to me that there is no
need for a CAT scan or MRI because i am perfectly in
good health.
Hi there, my sons short pains were very intense, almost crippling at the time - yet 15 seconds later he would be fine again. He was the epitomy of health, other than the pains in the head, and because of fitness and the appearance of a very strong fit young man, he was always passed over for any further testing.
It was only because he presented with such severe symptoms that a catscan was finally performed which ultimately saved his life - however it is a bit of a kick to the stomach to find out that there was no need for things to get this bad, if only someone decided to look beyond his physical appearance and actually listen to what he was describing and initiate a catscan in the first place.
Not every pain in the head will be a brain tumor, however for peace of mind I cannot see the harm in a doctor sending you for a catscan just to be certain. There is much to say if the neurological tests proved to be okay, especially the eye one, as the pressure does present inthe if that looked okay - then generally things should be okay too. My sons eye reactions to following the light is what made them do the catscan, oh and the fact that 45mg of morphine was not shifting the pain in his head at all!! He had major pressure.

Hey Cin,
Well thanks for the reply it helped a bit. I felt a little better
when you said that the checking of my eyes would give the docs
a sign if there was some kind of pressure going on inside my head,
and yet they said it looked fabulous in there compared to what
your son was experiencing. The sharp pain that i had got would
only be a couple of seconds and they weren't crippling but i had
never felt that before so i had got concerned about the health of
my brain. I still would like to try to push for at least a CT Scan, when
or of i go to the doctor just to rule out some things. But thanks
for the reply.
Well I just spent 5 hours in the ER! The stabbing short pain was freaking me out. So anyway, they did a CT scan and said I looked perfectly neruogically healthy. So the doctor puts on my discharge papers "I suggest getting an MRI and consult with a neurologiest THIS WEEK. So of course now I'm wondering, why????? Then he wasn't around when they were booting me out the door. Any clues as to why? Now I'm thinking he wasn't telling me the truth but wanted me out of there! Scared as usual :yawn:
Not too sure on that Lucky but maybe you should have tried to find
him and ask why unless it was not like you could cause you were getting
booted out. But that is what scares us because they say hey your
grrrrrrrreat in health but still put things on your discharge papers saying
get an MRI like you said and its like what?? You just said i was healthy.
I dont know but at least it was a good looking CT scan but i hear MRI's
can be even more convincing than anything. Keep the posts going and let
us know.
Lucky, The reason they are suggesting an mri is for 2 reasons. The first being mris are alot more detailed than cat scans and can show things that cat scans cannot. Second they do it to cover their butts. I would not worry at this point however if you are still having symptoms it would not hurt........Deb
UGH! So my GP just saw the results of my CT and what the ER doc had to say and at this time "he doesn't suggest getting an MRI"! Gosh I'm so mad. What is it with these doctors. Do they think they pay the bills or something? So i will just suck it up and think "doctor knows best". I still have the soreness in one tiny spot in the back of my head but what's weird is that it's sore to the my scalp hurts. I wear my hair up a lot and wondering to myself "could this be because of my hairclip"? :eek:
Well I just had an ENG done..they think my problem is middle ear related. I still want the MRI and will try and convince ENT of this next week when we go for the follow up. I still have the slight pain that is sore to the touch on my scalp but I've been gritting my teeth so bad that my jaw and temple are now hurting! Why can't I be satisfied with what my doc tells me. Maybe I should go over to Panic board. :)
[QUOTE=blueslvr53]Lucky, The reason they are suggesting an mri is for 2 reasons. The first being mris are alot more detailed than cat scans and can show things that cat scans cannot. Second they do it to cover their butts. I would not worry at this point however if you are still having symptoms it would not hurt........Deb[/QUOTE]


I had a cat scan about 1 1/2 yrs ago that came back clean/normal. However, since then I have been having more symptoms and worsening of the ones that prompted the scan.

At this point, I'm assuming I have MAV-migraine associated vertigo. The problem is...... is that my headaches are much more frequent, and the migraines are worse. I had one last weekend that for the first time, scared me...... so much so, that I began to panic. I was extremely nauseous and could do nothing but sit on the floor and cry. It felt as if someone had with full force, thrust my head into a brick or concrete wall.

I sent my husband out running for ibuprofin ( was out) , but I wonder if I should have been running to the ER.

I also get stabbing pains in my head. Not constantly, but I've noticed they are becoming more frequent.

My gp sent me for that cat scan in search of a brain tumor then. COULD the cat scan miss something as obnoxious as a tumor or cyst? ........... I want an MRI of my head anyway to figure out what is going on......... is it an ear thing, or MAV or what, this is what I want to find out with an MRI. I would list all my symptoms, but that would make this post so much longer, there are so many.

This migraine really scared me. I'm at my gp's office so often, I just feel awful in having to call him again. He's very sweet though and we have a good relationship. He's one of the good ones.

Thanks for listening.

Cindy, I'm so happy that your son is doing so much better. My best wishes to him, and hugs to you. I know that this must have been very scary for you.


I had an MRI about 4 years ago as i was experiencing dizziness and headaches, fortunately it was clear. Since then my symptoms have gotten alot worse, the dizziness is dreadful and I now have the stabbing head pains (which I didnt have back then) Like Sharalee i have many more symptoms but these are the worse two. My GP will not repeat the MRI because I have had one even though it was 4 years ago and things are so bad I cant work anymore. I guess all I can do is hope this is nothing sinister.

Thank goodness your son was caught in time Cindy, and thanks for alerting people to this potential problem,


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