Ice Pick Headaches?

Hey yall,

I had a brain AVM that was oblitorated with gamma knife and chemo .. that was 2 years ago but now ive been experiencing sharp, short pains in the same area on my brain that the AVM was.. The pain in so intenes for the few mins its there that it about brings me to my knees... Anyone have this or know what it is? thanks y'all!


Brittany ! I've missed you. :)
I'm guessing at this because, I really don't know. --- You may have some scar tissue where the avm once was. If this continues,... you should see your dr about this and get a new MRI done. I'm wondering what your vital signs are when this occurs... Is your blood pressure in the normal range or.. is it elevated some? Is your pulse rate up for some reason or another? If either one of these are elevated, that could be triggering it for you. It's worth paying attention to.

Hopefully someone who knows something about this can give you a better answer than what I could.


Omg Ive missed you too!! We have a lot of catching up to do!!! :)

Hello. Maybe I can help a bit. I had an AVM removed several years ago, via craniotomy, and a year or two after my surgery, I began having pains like those which you are experiencing, mostly in the area of the surgery. I know how debilitating those pains are. I did some research, and got in touch with some brain injury organizations, and talked to some doctors, describing the 'sharp, shooting pains' to them, and found that there are some types of headaches that can show up after having treatment for an avm. What I found out is that there is a type of headache known as a 'stabbing headache' or, as you correctly called it, an 'ice pick headache'. This is what those pains are. There is not much that can be done, unfortunately, to treat these headaches, and there are not any medications (at least not that I know of) able to target the headaches, as they last for such a short period of time. About all that one can do is to deal with them as they come, and hope that the pain isn't too bad. There is some more information about headaches associated with brain injury/avms here (see 'stabbing headache'): I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, let me know. - Becca

Hi Brittany,
I had those headaches post DAVM embolization. My Neurosurgeon referred me to a Neurologist who prescribed Amitriptyline 10mg to be taken at bedtime. After 3 months I was still getting "Shooters" and the Neurologist increased the dosage to 20mg at night and so far so good no headaches. I am now on a step down dosage for the next 6 months, going from 20mg to 15mg to 10mg and then zero. Talk to your Doc, maybe this med or similar may help,
Bye for now,

I have had the ice pick headaches non stop and found that three strands of crushed organic saffron infused in boiled water and drank while still warm has helped a lot.


Hi! Welcome to avmsurvivors! It’s great that you found us!

The conversation you found, about ice pick headaches is very old – like 8 years old – so the people in this thread may have “moved on”. However, I can tell you that a number of current members have definitely suffered from the same kind of headaches, so you are not alone.

Best wishes,


Hey Macker,

I wish I could say I had as much success with Amitryptiline as you do. I have tried virtually every possible dosage from 10 up to 160 mg. Yeah, that’s not a misprint.

In the end (at least as much as this is the end) we’ve figured out that for me, Amitryptiline is not going to get rid of my headaches, but it is going to lower them. If they might have spiked in the 6 to 8 range, now they spike in the 3 to 5 range. 160 mg brought no bigger relief for me than 50 mg did. But 50 mg. did more than below that. I think we tried 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80, 120 and 160 mg and ended up at 50 mg as a help, not as an answer or a cure for them. How does the saying go, “Your mileage may vary.”