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Experiencing sharp pain in head. Could it be related to tumour?

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Neurologist, Surgical
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 173 Questions

I am experiencing some head pain. It has been like this for a little over a month. It is not severe, it isn't the "dull" type of pain... it is a bit sharp, but not very painful at all. Not throbbing. It's on the middle left side of my head and is present when I bend over, if I press on an area near the top left of my head. The feeling is in that area and also down the side of the left side of my head almost to behind the ear. Some exertion/straining can 'sometimes' also bring it forth briefly. It is not debilitating at all though. It is not worse in the morning, or when I lie down. It has not gotten worse since the day I first noticed it. Some days it is more noticeable than others.

However, if I clench me jaw and then bend over the pain is not there. This works almost every time. Why is this?
Finally, I should add that the pain is only there for a few moments while bending over. If I continue in the bent over position the pain does not linger past the first few moments.

I am not experiencing loss of vision, fatigue, confusion, nausea, speech problems or anything other than the 'pain'. It's been there for about almost a month. It hasn't gotten worse during that time. There was almost a week when I didn't really notice it much... but I do again now. What could this be? I'm rather concerned it could a be a tumor of some sort...

I'm currently in a foreign country (for a few months) and thus I cannot get any brain scans or such. Do you think my situation will become urgent enough to require that?

thank you!
Posted Sun, 18 Nov 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Vineet Saggar 7 hours later
Dear Friend,

Thanks for the query.

After reading your detailed history the chances of you having a tumour are very, very low because tumoral headaches are associated with vomiting / blurring of vision and both of these especially early in the morning. Therefore it is unlikely that you have a tumour.

You say the pain disappears upon clenching jaw and bending your head - Unfortunately there are no organic medical illnesses that can explain this. Perhaps the headache may be related to stress and psychological factors. That being said, I feel you should still undergo CT scan of the head whenever feasible as precautionary measure along with X-ray paranasal sinuses.

Hope this answers your query. Let me know if I have missed out on any of your concerns.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Experiencing sharp pain in head. Could it be related to tumour? 30 hours later
Hello Dr. Saggar,

Thank you for your response. Perhaps I wasn't clear when I wrote one of my symptoms... I meant to indicate that the pain is usually ONLY present when I bend over... it's usually (99% of the time) not present when upright. However when I do bend down, the pain is only there for a moment (2 seconds)... if I stay bent down for any length of time the pain goes away. Also when I revert to a standing position from the bent over position the pain might be there (again temporarily). It's as if it is just signaling the transition of position. I hope this was not too confusing!

And yes, like I said, the pain does not happen if I clench my jaw muscles when bending down.

I will not be returning to my own country for at least another 6 months. Do you think I'll be alright until then?

thank you very much!
Answered by Dr. Vineet Saggar 3 hours later
Dear Friend,

It looks like a transient positional headache. After reading your complaints i do not think so you need too worry. You can wait it out. However if your pain increases in severity or you have early morning headache and vomiting or weakness in any part of your body then you may require urgent CT Head.

Dr. Vineet
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Experiencing sharp pain in head. Could it be related to tumour? 2 days later
Hello again Dr. Saggar,

thank you very much for your previous response.

I have noticed in the past days that sometimes there is a "sensation" or dull pain occasionally even when I am upright on the left side of my head (concentrated on 1 or 2 areas). If I shake my head vigorously from side to side I get localized (perhaps focal? Not sure about the terminology) "pain" on the left side I mentioned previously.

I am unsure if some of my "sensations" and pain are just due to the anxiety that I sometimes experience about this (when I think about it, I tend to notice it more and it feels as though it may be worse. Sometimes if I am doing an activity I may not notice it at all). I am under a decent amount of stress these days (nothing insane though).

Answered by Dr. Vineet Saggar 19 hours later

Thanks again.

Pain or discomfort on shaking head is not explained by any organic medical condition and therefore this perhaps may be due to extra stress / anxiety.

I suggest you to try relaxing techniques and see if you are relieved or try antianxiety medications.

Hope this helps.

Dr Vineet
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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