AVM Survivors Network

Anyone else have icepick headaches

Since my craniotomy 5 1/2 weeks ago I’ve been having what I’ve learned are called icepick headaches. Cold packs and painkillers only help a little bit. Has anyone else had these headaches post craniotomy? If so, how do you deal with the pain? Does it ever go away? Is it part of the healing process? My DAVM was in the right occipital, with two major arteries feeding into one vein, ready to burst when it was removed. The headaches started about two weeks post surgery and it’s roughly right where the DAVM was removed.
These are very different from my migraines with aura.

I had a right occipital craniotomy 2 years ago. I had “ice pick” headaches at first but they tapered off after 3 months.
I would get them occasionally after that but not often. I believe it is part of the healing process.
I still get migraines with aura if I do not keep myself hydrated.
I do not like pain meds so I suffered through the sharp headaches. I hope your headaches start to diminish as mine did.

Thanks for the info. I hope they go away too…never had them before the
surgery and now I get them several times a day! Nearly impossible to
function while they’re going on. The area is about the size of the palm
of my hand, roughly in the same spot as the AVM was, and it feels like I’m
being stabbed all over that area at random. Lasts about 15 minutes. If
it’s part of the healing process I wish I’d been warned about the
possibility of getting them. I spent all day at an ER 2 weeks ago to get
them investigated. I’d hit my head on a doorframe and they found a small
pool of fluid under the bone right on the staple line next to that area
with the stabbing pain.

remember you have a brain,nerve endings and a skull trying to heal; I think as the nerves re attach it causes some shooting pains in the head.
Avoid hitting your head on the door frame… not that I didnt walk into everything after my rupture… :slight_smile:best of luck and stay strong!

I understand…I just wasn’t warned and there was nothing online to tell
me to expect this. I have to tell myself: “It’s only been six weeks as of
today. Recovery will take months…”

That is the hardest part about the recovery is having patience and realizing this process can take months if not years. I just hit two years and though my improvements have pretty much stopped I will keep trying hoping for some small improvements in the future.
Stay strong, take it step-by-step day-by-day and just keep fighting that’s all we can do!

You have my admiration…yours bled. Mine didn’t so I know my recovery
should be faster. I know I was extremely lucky it was found when it was-it
was ready to rupture when the surgeon got in there to take it out.
I will hope and pray you continue to improve no matter how long or how
slowly it comes.
Thanks so much for the support. How I wish I had a I’M A AVM SUVIVOR"
shirt to wear. Just educated a gentleman here at the library about it


I’m 7 years out from my craniotomy and I still sometimes get those icepick headaches - aka migraines with aura - sometimes light sensitive, sometimes sound sensitive. I usually start with an icepack to the base of my skull and some pain meds - tylenol at first and if it absolutely doesn’t work - half a norco. I also get trigger point injections and/or occipital blocks for them about every 8-12 weeks as needed to try to control them. Talk to your neuro to see if that’s a good option for you. They really do help! They’ve gotten a LOT better over time, but they are worse when the barometric pressure or the humidity is higher.

Hang in there!


10 years out and I still get ice pick headaches every once in a while

Mine have started to diminish, thank heavens. Just get a quick hard stab
in the back of my head near the staple line at the nape of the neck every
so often. Maybe twice or three times a day.

Been cleared by the neurosurgeon just this week so I can go ahead with my
throat hemangioma removal surgery next week. Basically a glorified
tonsillectomy with a bit of extra tissue taken since one tumor grew a
little outside the tonsil. Makes me wonder if the AVM and the hemangioma
are related somehow…