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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Head and Neck Cancer

Question: electrical shock headaches?

 mdhippie - Sat Sep 19, 2009 7:42 pm

I'm 24 years old, back in 2003 i fractured my skull (if that's helpful). But anyway, For a while, (probably a good year), I have noticed small things being wrong with me. My head began hurting ridiculously, it isn't a normal headache. It's the feeling of electrical shocks stemming from the back right of my head to the front left. They last for a few seconds at a time...but are enough to stop me in my tracks, make me want to pull my hair out or just scrunch up in a corner. That has gone on, like I said, for about a year. Around May-ish, I noticed other strange things happening. My eyesight began to go blurry for a few seconds at a time, then come back. Sometimes, when I try to read I feel like I am almost staring THROUGH the words, and can't actually comprehend what they say. The periphrial vision on my right eye sometimes seems to be non-existant and Dizziness has become an every day occurance. Also, i have ear pain. This is probably the worst of all of them, minus the electrical shocks. It began to feel as if the inside of my right ear is numb. When there is a lot of noise, I can't focus on anything..I can't comprehend what people say with out truly trying. sometimes, I just want to cover my ear, the pain is so bad. I also have random tingling in my arm, and numbness in my face. I've been to a dr and they said it's probably Occipital Neuritis, they gave me 800 mg of motrin 3 times a day, which doesn't help any of the symptoms at all. And The other day I noticed a large lump on the right side of my neck (the back where the base of the skull meets the neck i guess) I don't really know what it is? should I be worried?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:03 pm

User avatar Hello --

This may be occipital neuritis (and if it is I'm not too surprised it hadn't responded to Motrin), but could also be several other things, especially since you mention pain in the ear and dizziness along with that lump (and these things are often something which was already present but in a heightened state of awareness is suddenly discovered -- then again maybe it really is new). At any rate, there are enough symptoms to cause some doubt about the occipital neuritis, but there is also the possibility of more than one thing going on at the same time, which usually clouds the picture. This is called co-morbidity, meaning, well, that more that one thing is wrong (means two things, but can actually be any number). They may even stem from the same underlying cause.

The "electric shock headaches" do sound like the pain from an inflamed cranial nerve, perhaps the occiptal one, perhaps another (there are eight to choose from). This may also be causing the pain in your ear, in which case it may be a different cranial nerve affected. This could be due to the skull fracture but just as easily might not, since it is often a sequel to shingles, which when it has occurred in the scalp can often go undetected. Anyone who's ever had chickenpox may at some later point in life develop shingles and if, as is so often the case, it manifests in the scalp area, can go largely unnoticed except for some pain, itching, or vague discomfort.

You do have some other extrapyramidal symptoms as well (symptoms that fall outside the obvious pathway we are exploring) but these often are related in some indirect way or are the result of built-up anxiety over the earlier symptoms.

A neurological workup is appropriate to rule out any more serious structural problem, but it seems likely this is a neuralgia (virtually interchangeable with neuritis) of one of the cranial nerves. When this doesn't respond to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Motrin (ibuprofin) it usually requires something different that will act as a nerve pain blocker, something like Neurontin or Lyrica (which were originally anti-siezure meds). These can have annoying side effects, but one of them may well work for you well enough to disregard any modest drowsiness or random annoyance it may cause in exchange for relief from these current symptoms.

First order of business, however, is a neurology consult. After that, hopefully, a diagnosis is reached and a treatment plan initiated. Please follow up with us here as needed and keep us updated as to how things go. Good luck to you.

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