A head pain is not a head pain is not a head pain.
They are all very different because the causes are different and our bodies are different.
When we can personalize our approach to our situation we can heal the cause and take the load off of the weak areas that fail and cause us pain like our heads.
In this article we will be talking about idiopathic stabbing headaches, how we can define them, what causes them, the standard treatments as well as the 5 avoidable sins we can use today.
What are idiopathic stabbing headaches? / Define
Idiopathic stabbing headaches can be broken down into their root words to understand them more clearly.
Idiopathic – something that arises spontaneously or for which the cause is not known
Stabbing – the most common presentation of these headaches as if something like a knife or screwdriver has been stuck into your head
Headaches – pains around the head, upper neck and face
So an idiopathic stabbing headache is a pain in the head that feels knife like and comes on spontaneously for which the cause is not known.
But the last part is a bit misleading because we know many of the causes of headaches even if we don’t necessarily know the triggers.
Generally what happens is that out of nowhere you will experience a stabbing pain in your head which can be anywhere from mild to extremely crippling. This can last from seconds to hours but is usually only minutes at max.
See the graph below for the characteristics of these headaches also known as primary stabbing headaches below:
What causes idiopathic stabbing headaches?
Idiopathic stabbing headaches can be caused by a number of things because the body is interconnected.
This means that things that happen far from the site of the pain may be contributing and this is why getting a holistic assessment from your health-care provider is essential as simply medicating usually doesn’t fix the issue going on.
Stress in the digestive system can cause the vagus nerves afferent pathway to overstimulate the brain stem causing the trigeminal nerve which is implicated in headaches to be used as an outlet for energy.
You may feel the pain in your head, but pain is simply a message caused by a nerve and we have to be tuned in to our body to understand where it is really coming from.
This poses both amazing solutions as well as tricky problems.
Medical science is still a baby and chronic pain sufferers known the trouble of getting an MRI and blood work back showing that they are perfectly healthy when they feel like they are on the edge of death.
This means we have to rely on a really solid assessment by a holistic health-care practitioner, with proper referral to physical therapists, functional medicine laboratory testing and more to look at deeper areas.
All head pain triggers have been connected by oxidation and so this is one of the first areas we need to learn to avoid, support and counteract.
We will go deeper into it in the 5 avoidable sins.
What are the standard treatments used for idiopathic stabbing headaches?
According to healthline, two of the standard treatments for these types of headaches are indomethacin and gabapentin.
But with the nature of these drugs you will likely be on them for the rest of your life and they cause nutrient deficiencies that need to be properly supplemented for.
If you experience any sudden pains out of the blue make sure to contact your doctor immediately and rule out anything more serious.
If you’ve been getting these pains frequently over the last few weeks, months, years or even decades it is important to do the avoidable.
The 5 avoidable sins of idiopathic stabbing headaches
The symptoms we experience have causes and reasons as our bodies are highly complex and intelligent.
When we can avoid these “sins” we will not only be much better off for reducing our risk factors for head pain, but we will also think more clearly, live longer happier lives and feel real health in our bodies.
1. Nutrient deficiency
The absolute first and foremost most important issue we need to understand and work to resolve is nutrient deficiency. Unless we are living below poverty and live far away from any source of natural and sustainable farming or gardening, we have to choose health as a priority and fix these.
Nutrient deficiency is rampant across the entire globe and especially in the most advanced societies.
If your body is lacking a building block, the entire chain of events that the building block is supposed to allow, stops.
With long term nutrient deficiencies you can lose IQ, lose emotional resilience, lose any physical strength or health, lose brain function and make brain degeneration happen faster and faster.
Do not gamble with nutrient deficiencies.
See the picture below on the most common nutrient deficiencies present.
But how do we go about starting the mend and refilling our bodies reserves?
There is a simple diet created by Dr Terry Wahls which she used to reverse her chronic progressive unremitting multiple sclerosis after she was already completely handicapped by it.
It goes like this.
Each day get:
3 Cups of nutrient dense leafy greens or micorgreens such as kale, parsley, cilantro etc.
3 Cups of Sulfur rich vegetables such as those in the cruciferous, onion and mushroom families
3 Cups of full colored fruit or veg that covers the colors of the rainbow you’re missing such as berries
Organ meats such as liver, kidney, stomach, sweetbreads etc.
Sea weeds such as dulse, nori, kombu etc.
Its really simple but profoundly powerful.
Start here and watch your health transform.
You need to stop it, wherever it is. If it’s in one area of your body, it is likely everywhere. Telltale signs are heat, redness, swelling and pain.
A little bit of inflammation in the body is good and normal. But every day and chronically will start to destroy tissues and if its in the brain, it may be destroying the brain.
Inflammation is a large topic so read our article on the headache that won’t go away and what to do about it here to get in depth information on inflammation.
One of our best tools against inflammation that has actually been shown to improve dozens of different conditions because of how powerful it is, even making it migraine professional article worthy is turmeric. Click here to read our article on using turmeric curcumin for headaches.
3. Stress/tension and anxiety
These three go hand in hand, come from the same sources and perpetuate each other. Find them in your life and go out and find the solutions to them, they are there you just have to look.
Stress does not serve you. It is a primal reaction used by the body to make you fight, flee and get frightened.
In today’s world, it brings nothing but negative consequences. We need to learn to switch out of fight or flight mode that creates even more stress than the stress that caused it and switch into rest and digest mode. See the parasympathetic section of this article.
Tension is a tell tale sign of non stop stress, bad posture, bad movement(or no movement) and nutritional deficiencies like a lack of magnesium. Stretch it out using post isometric stretching, use a roller or a ball to massage it out or even pamper yourself and get to know a masseuse, you deserve it and require a tension-less stay to function at your best. See our article on cervicogenic headaches here to learn about tension created pain.
Anxiety inflates problems that have not even happened yet. Problems that usually never do.
It is the fear of future events and an exaggerated stress response to them.
You will wreck your sleep, destroy your ability to digest and ruin any possibility of thinking intelligently if your are constantly anxious. It can be fixed and the solutions are there.
Dealing with trauma and learned patterns of compensation is a big piece.
When you begin reducing one of these three, the others reduce as well.
When you begin taking steps for all three, you can switch off the bodies fear response that keep it on the edge of trigger.
Often times, the things that are causing these three can come from deeply held beliefs and ideas about our life or what we should or have to do.
If we step back, become objective and reflect on what is going on we can begin to see the “problems” we experience as minor.
This is where mindfulness comes in really handy as a tool you can use for the rest of your life to give you peace day after day.
Watch the video below to learn about mindfulness from the creator of mindfulness meditation Dr Jon Kabat Zinn:
4. Circadian malfunction
We can encounter many toxic problems in this world, but the majority of them are a blip on the radar as long as we can sleep properly.
Studies show, most people don’t.
Circadian rhythms are the bodies 24-hr clock that regulate the cycles within every cell and hormone in our bodies.
Circadian rhythms determine when we wake up, when we go to sleep, if we repair, if we can think clearly, if we produce new healthy cells and if our pain will come back today or not.
Circadian cycles are as old as the very first single celled organisms in our universe.
They are deeply ingrained into us and one of the reasons that shift work is classified as a carcinogen.
We need these to be regulated and it requires a few different pieces:
- Direct sunlight onto our eyes and skin during the day
- Avoidance of artificial sources of blue light at night
- Balanced blood sugar
- Low mental/emotional stress
- 10pm-6am sleep
- Winding down starting 2 hours before bed
- 20 minutes of exercise during the day
- Proper melatonin levels
Melatonin is one of the most effective alternatives to medication for these types of headaches.
But melatonin is more than a drug, its a neurohormone. It regulates our sleep-wake cycles.
And it works inversely to cortisol, our stress hormone.
When the sun comes up, the light triggers our body to release cortisol which wakes us up and makes us alert.
When the sun starts setting, the blue light spectrum from the sun disappears and the stress response creating cortisol drops.
This allows melatonin to start climbing and preparing us for sleep and repair.
(Cortisol level is the black line and melatonin the white line)
Melatonin is also a critical antioxidant in the brain, preventing damage from any free radicals or antioxidants that can be made through improper metabolism or waste removal.
If we continue exposing our body to the blue light spectrum like that from screens and fluorescent lighting, our body thinks it is still day and keeps releasing cortisol.
This causes our entire sleep cycle to shift and become disrupted. Our body loses touch with the natural cycles.
We need to implement things like killing electronic use 2 hours before bed and using blue light filters apps, blue light filter glasses etc.
One small study found that in 3 patients suffering from idiopathic stabbing headaches, taking 3-12mg of melatonin nightly gave them complete freedom from pain.(Link)
That is only a very small number of people but it is a fairly rare disorder and comes with many co-morbid disorders like tension, cluster and migraine headache of which there have been many studies using melatonin as a preventive for them.
Remember a supplement is only a supplement to an already solid program, do the big things first, your body will thank you.
5. Dental trigger
This is rarely talked about because of the large dental monopoly that has protected from any scrutiny of dental practises.
But the chronic illnesses that are created by bad teeth are huge.
Our trigeminal nerve which is the main nerve throughout our head and face that triggers pain is connected right into our jaw and teeth.
If we have a root canal, cavity or bridge, it can leech an infection into our blood stream 24/7.
It has become very common to have disimilar metals in our mouth which when you add a solution like saliva creates an electrical charge.
Remember our body runs on bioelectrical energy, all of our nerves impulses are electric.
Having dental work that accidentally kills a piece of a tooth and leaves it to rot for years…
Eating sugar laden foods that cause our lymphatic system in our mouths to reverse and stop draining waste properly leading to dental decay…
And getting things like root canals that are notorious for developing infections which can create a huge strain on the body…
These are all direct stressors and triggers for activating the pain in our trigeminal nerve.
We need to take care of our teeth and mouth.
See the chart below on what areas of the body and organs are connected to what teeth and see if you can make your own connections.
We can eat sweet food, but not food that has been sweetened with bare sugar. Sugar is a waste product.
We need to make sure we have lots of the necessary minerals in our diet and lifestyle like vitamin D, silica, collagen, calcium and zinc.
And we need proper dental hygiene(brushing, flossing, tongue scraping, oil pulling etc)
By combining a good checkup to make sure there isn’t anything more serious going on, a full holistic assessment to rule out major mind/body causes of chronic pain and by steering clear of the avoidable sins we can become free of head pain and the pieces of our life it can ruin.
Along with the avoidable sins, there are 5 special tips for ice pick headaches that are absolutely invaluable in your journey for relief which you can find here.
To learn more about healing head pains than you have ever known before and be empowered to overcome pain then join the migraine professional community here.
Do you experience idiopathic stabbing headaches or another primary stabbing pain? Let me know in the comments below.
Do you know someone that does? Share this article with them.
Holistic Health PractitionerMark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.