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"Electric Shock" type pain in my scalp!

Posted by @deby in Chronic Pain, Aug 17, 2011

It feels like someone is touching my scalp with an electric wire or prod. Like a "zap" and then it takes a few seconds to get over it. It happens 2 or more times per MINUTE! It lastes for a couple of days usually and when it goes away it takes a few more days for my scalp not to be sore. I don't know how many times a year it occurs but when it does, like today, it drives me crazy. I walk around making weird faces and people stare at me. They think I have a headache or migrain but I don't, the pain is only on my scalp not IN my head. Sometimes the shocks occur over and over for a minute, then go back to 2 or more times per minute. It's the weirdest thing and I can't wait for it to be over. I never know when it's going to occur or what brings it on. Anyone ever heard of something like this?

Tags: nerve pain


Posted by @dean1, Aug 18, 2011

have you talked to a neurologist or dr who specialize in nerve problems? i dont know anything but it sounds miserable. i am just a guy here hoping to get help with my serious eye pain.

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Posted by @deby, Aug 18, 2011

No, if I had insurance I'd go but.....that's why I am looking on line.


Posted by @switchinggranny, Aug 18, 2011

Deby - look up trigeminal neuralgia. I had this most terrible disease. It was actually a vessel laying on an branch of my trigeminal nerve Ultimately I had brain surgery (but some get by with medication) The surgery stopped my pain! Was in 06. But Dean was right.. a Neurologist is your best bet. There is a type of neuralgia that causes pain in the eye.


Posted by @switchinggranny, Aug 18, 2011

Also I suggest you go check out to find tons of information on TN. MY pain was in my ear canal. From my blog:

And from TNA's site: (a video)

My story here:

If when you are on my blog you search (brain surgery or trigeminal neuralgia you'll find lots of links about this condition.

You are in my prayers.


Posted by @deby, Aug 18, 2011

Thanks, it has changed from the back of the left side of my head to the side but the shocks are much further apart yet elicit a bigger response from me when they hit, so I believe this round is almost over. See this is completely on top of the scull, nerves between skull and I said, I only get it a couple times a year but have no idea what the trigger is....really what I need is HankMed to come over and give me a freebee. ;>} Thanks Deby


Posted by @switchinggranny, Aug 18, 2011


If it is a type of trigeminal neuralgia (which it sounds like) this tends to happen to people in episodes like you are mentioning. I'd have an episode of "zaps" that would go on for say a few weeks and then NOTHING for months. What generally helps is not narcotic medication but anti seizure medications. Please check out the site's I mentioned above. Plus Mayo has a good site regarding trigeminal neuralgia. Just search for it.

Glad this episode is easing for you.


Posted by @deby, Aug 19, 2011

Thanks, I haven't had more than 2 or 3 zaps all day...I don't know why it's only a day or two for me,.. but I will look at the site you recommended and I really appreciate your husband reminded me that I had an even weirder episode a few months ago but it was a patch on my arm. It wasn't red and it didn't shock me like the head ones do but it would just cause me a similar type of pain on the skin itself. The oddest part was that you couldn't see anything at all on my arm. Anyway, thanks for your concern and I will check out that site. Deby


Posted by @deby, Aug 19, 2011

After having only a couple of zaps yesterday I woke up this morning and they have come back into the original spot. I am heading off to look up TN. Thanks for your support.


Posted by @deby, Aug 19, 2011

I went to a TN site and it only talks about face pain..this is on my head, but I did find a website for all natural pills specifically for this type of pain. It seems to be mostly made from asparagus! Whodathunkit? If we had any insurance at all I would go see someone but in the mean time I'll see how long this lasts and if it goes more than another day I'll look into either the tabs or,...hell I'll go buy some asperagus! ;>} Thanks for being such a friend, . Deborah


Posted by @jeffacre, Apr 13, 2013

WOW! I have this issue too! It's been driving me crazy for two days now, and I can't seem to explain it to anyone. Nobody understands when you tell them it feels like a shock going thru the nerves in one area of your scalp. It's like a quick, painful and shock to the nerves that almost take my breath away each time it hits. Thank Goodness it only happens for a second or two, but it is drivng me crazy because it's EVERY FEW SECONDS and ALL DAY LONG NOW!!!
I too have also had a strange "jumpy nerve" feeling on my arm in the past. It seems I have these painful and annoying nerve issues a couple times a year.

***Were you ever able to find out what caused your shocking nerve pain in your scalp? Please let me know!
Thanks so much for validating what I'm going thru!


Posted by @triili, May 9, 2013

Did you find anything out? I'm suffering from the same thing. I described it to my husband as a repeated wasp sting in the same place on my scalp. He sees nothing...except for me freeze in place and wince in pain.


Posted by @Restless67, Feb 5, 2016

Sorry for my ignorance here. (I am a Trigeminal Neurolgia survivor in the face. I had a massive Ritzotomy in the brain) But are you sure it is TN? What you all have is surely real. I was under the suggestion TN was only with the 3 branches in your face. The nerve is hitting against a blood vessel ..


Posted by @annieg, Jun 19, 2014

I'm currently experiencing my second round of this pain. The first was two years ago and lasted more than a month before it finally went away. When people ask me to describe the pain I ask if they have ever seen the children's movie, "Fern Gully". I feel like the character Batty who escaped from a lab with wires implanted in his head and every so often they shock him. Two years ago a dr told me this was shingles, even tho there are no visible sores. The right half of my scalp, including my ear, feels almost numb and tight. As the days go by it is getting worse and the tingling is developing into more defined zaps. I find myself massaging my scalp to try to "loosen" the scalp from the scull if that makes any sense... I'll start looking for a neurologist tonight...

Posted by @Margaret_Marie, Jun 19, 2014

Hi, @annieg. I'm sorry to hear about the pain you are experiencing. Here is a link to the Neurology department at Mayo Clinic that may be helpful:


Posted by @normasmith381, Feb 9, 2015

I have this sensation. It just started recently. Its scary. I dont have a headache or anything...its just these electrical bursts on my scalp and then its just sore to the touch. They only last 5 seconds. What is this?? Somone please tell me. Its so strange and I never know when it is coming on!!


Posted by @ennergizerbunnee, Jul 14, 2015

Yes I have had this over the years and have it right now since about 5pm, not able to sleep yet with the zap happening.VERY painful for about 4 - 8 seconds. I have been informed that there is a very slight swelling in the ear canal and the nerves at the side of the head run very closely to the nerves of the ear so it triggers off a synapse which is very painful. I found i get it if the windows are open in the car, i can't have a breeze blowing at my ears or it happens like clock work. This morning i got splashed in the swimming pool into the ear, and then drove 1/2 hr to apt with windows open , it was a beautiful day free from smoke from the forest fires and i forgot so now i pay the price. I usually have a pair of ear puffs from the sporting goods store for skiing that i wear when the wind it up and i wear them, don't care if it looks silly in summer but my hair covers them up. Better that than the horrid pain. I currently have taken a Tylenol #2, 5 mg of Oxycontin and 15 mg of oxazipam and i put an ice pack in the towel at the side of the head to numb the spot. The spot is about 2 1/2 inches above the ear on the scalp this time. Hope it simmers down asap, i need sleep.
I am a retired nurse. You have to pay attention to what you were doing within about 5 hours before onset of the zapping to know what is setting it off. good luck, always wear hats in cold weather.


Posted by @megamom, Wed, Apr 19 at 6:52am CDT

I am going to pay more attention to see if it occurs during periods where I might have gotten wind in my ears, has your ever accompanied a fever?


Posted by @lorimar89, Feb 4, 2016

I am currently having this very thing going on. It started last evening and I am still experiencing it 20 hours later. I have had it before in the past, but never this painful or lasting this long. I timed it and I'm having between 4 and 6 episodes every minute with the episode lasting one or two seconds max. I barely made it through the grocery store today because I'm in so much pain and it's hard to not wince, distort my face, or call out when its happening. I had to call off work today because of it because I work with the public. I got very little sleep last night and unless this lightens up some, I don't think I'm going to be getting much tonight. I have a doctors appointment tomorrow morning. I've taken 9 motrin in the last 12 hours. It helps for an hour or two and then it's right back to where it was. It's maddening. How does one put up with this for long periods of time??


Posted by @colleenyoung, Feb 4, 2016

Hi @lorimar89,
Welcome to Connect.

Here's some information about trigeminal neuralgia This might help prepare questions for your doctor's appointment, especially if @switchinggranny's hunch is right.

You may also want to connect with @Restless67.
I hope you can rest well tonight. Please let us know what you find out at your appointment tomorrow.

Connect Community Director


Posted by @lorimar89, Feb 5, 2016

Turns out it's shingles! The electric shock feeling on my scalp is because my rash, now lesions, are on my neck, behind my ear and half way up the back of my scalp. Believe me, I have wondered...could i possibly have two things going on at the same time?? I have to go back to the doctor on Tuesday so they can see the progression and make sure the path it's on is not a danger to my eye. If I'm still having the electric shock feeling on my scalp, I'll address TN once again. I think they dismissed it after they saw the rash on my neck going up into my scalp. Also, I have NO facial pain, and that seems to be the most prominent symptom.


Posted by @colleenyoung, Feb 6, 2016

@lorimar89 What a relief it must be to have a diagnosis. Were you prescribed anything for the pain? I'm glad to hear that they are monitoring the path and taking care about your eye.

Here's some information about shingles in case you'd like to read more.

Let us know how your appointment goes on Tuesday.


Posted by @colleenyoung, Feb 6, 2016

I'm tagging @scohen0 on this discussion thread. He writes about having a second bout of shingles in his left eye in this discussion thread Maybe he would have something to add to this discussion.

Connect Community Director


Posted by @lorimar89, Feb 8, 2016

They gave me percocet. I also AM taking ibuprofen. It's much better today. Getting a jump on it quickly was key! Again, I go back to the doctor on Tuesday so they can take a look at the progression or lack thereof.


Posted by @david33, Feb 13, 2016

My wife has the same and odd symptoms, she is also seeing a doctor for this whom claims its just headaches....but they are getting more intense.....there's an explosion that goes off like a gun shot, and red liquid type will go over her eyes. No doctors believe her, even with the test, everything comes back normal.She even have a numbness behind right ear that if she touches it, feels like she is touching her brain, also if she scratches behind her left ear, she gets a pinching between her first two fingers on her left hand that drives her nuts. Before she can even scratch that part of her head she has me or her daughter to put pressure between those two fingers to stop the pitching. She has no idea what's going on, but she does know headaches are and this isn't it.
Can anyone help us here, and who to see.


Posted by @lorimar89, Feb 14, 2016

Are you seeing a neurologist?


Posted by @luladavis, Mar 18, 2016

Hi @deby I think u have described my symptoms I to have a stick electric shock all over my body an itch-lik..makes me want to scratch..Wow! I have been taking Hydroxyzine Hcl tabs 25mg..Mine started after chemo and Radation I would say..I can't say it help tho..I wonder what is it?


Posted by @audrapopp, Mar 24, 2016

This sounds like You are having Ice Pick named because it feels like someone is poking your head with an ice pick. I feel your pain!! I was plaqued with these for many years. Treated initially with neurontin by my Neurologist but it didn't seem to help, even with increasing the dose the stabbing pains continued. I was than referred to a Mayo Clinic Neurologist, Dr Julie Hammack..took me off the Neurontin and tried indomethacin which worked but dropped my blood pressure too low and finally settled on Verapamil which also worked well. I was told they may just go away as quickly as they came on...and was instructed that after no episodes in a 6 month timeframe I could try weaning off the medication and I did successfully!! It really is a weird phenomenon....good luck and I hope this helps!

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Posted by @genzel, Dec 8, 2016

I have this! exactly as you describe it, as well. Have you found the cause or a solution yet? I suspect it has something to do with my ear or the nerves in my neck but I'm no doctor. I'm about three days into my current episode and I'm so annoyed already, I can't wait for it to stop.

Posted by @JustinMcClanahan, Dec 8, 2016

Hi @genzel, welcome to Connect. I am glad you found a conversation and other members experiencing symptoms similar to your own.

While we wait for other members to weigh in, would you mind sharing a bit more about yourself and your experiences? Have you discussed these symptoms with your medical provider? What are you currently doing to manage the symptoms other than waiting it out?


Posted by @megamom, Thu, Feb 9 at 6:58am CDT

Hi, I am 62 years old and have had headaches like this since as long as I can remember. I alway called them my cattle prod head pain. Out of no where I would get a jolt of pain in my head. When I have an attack it will last any where from a dozen and then gone to days of recurrent zaps on the side of my head maybe dozens of times a minute. My head will be so sensitive I can't comb my hair over the spot for fear of triggering another jolt and because of residual pain. With bad attacks I get nauseated after a couple of hours but it is probably just the stress and pain. This can be on either side of my head but I have never had bilateral headaches like this. It actually sounds like a zap in my ears also.
I have said if these were a constant head pain you would not be able to stand the pain. It is that intense, but that quick. No doctor has ever been able to tell me what these are and I sometimes feel they don't believe but it is real and horrible and I thank God comes and goes.
This week I am experiencing several of the attacks. I recently had a steroid shot in my hip so don't know if that triggered it. I have never found anything that helps either. I am somewhat relieved, but sorry for you all that others know exactly what I am talking about and have the same thing.


Posted by @sandytoes14, Thu, Feb 9 at 1:25pm CDT

Hi @megamom Welcome to Connect! It helps to know that others are going through similar things as us. For me personally, it confirmed that my pain was not, pardon the pun, ‘in my head’. I have had what I call a hypersensitivity at times when I would wash my face, but it really is painful. You mention that you have seen doctors have not been able to give you a diagnosis for this awful pain. Have you seen a neurologist? Also, have you reported your headaches this week to the doctor who administered your steroid injection?


Posted by @trishd, Wed, Mar 8 at 6:19am CDT

Hi I was wondering if anyone else has the same problem as me. I get shooting pain like an electric shock it lasts for only a second or two then stops but it happens every two or three minutes. I usually know when it's going to start as I get a tingling on my skin beforehand sort of like the tiny hairs on my face are charging then the pain starts. I can have it for up to a fee days then it stops and I may not have it again for a few months. I have heard of Trigeminal Neuralgia and what I get sounds exactly like that but the difference with mine is it's not only on my face I get it on my scalp too and when I get really bad episodes it can affect my neck, throat, inside my nose,eyes and gums too. It's so painful it makes me wince and shout out it's very embarrassing. I've had a doctor tell me it's from nerve damage because I was never vaccinated as a child and I've had chickenpox four times three times as an adult. Could this be true? Has anyone else got something similar?


Posted by @hopeful33250, Wed, Mar 8 at 1:11pm CDT

@trishd Hello and welcome to Mayo Connect. I'm sorry to hear of the shock-type pain you are having, this sounds very uncomfortable. Have you had any other symptoms like balance, gait or walking problems? You mentioned that your doctor said it is from nerve damage. Was this your primary care doctor making this diagnosis? What type of tests did he/she do to come to this conclusion I would suggest a second opinion with a neurologist. Keep in touch with Mayo Connect, we look forward to following your progress as you seek treatment for this uncomfortable symptom. Teresa


Posted by @colleenyoung, Wed, Mar 8 at 2:26pm CDT

Hi @trishd,
I add my welcome. You'll notice that I moved your message to a discussion in the Chronic Pain group. If you click VIEW & REPLY in the email notification, you'll be able scroll back through the discussion to see suggestions from other members about this type of electric shock pain. You'll also meet members like @lorimar89 @david33 @luladavis @audrapopp @genzel @megamom and @sandytoes14.

Trish, I'm not a medical professional, but I wonder if you might be onto something with your suspicions of the chicken pox virus. @lorimar89 discovered that her pain was due to shingles. The varicella zoster virus is the same virus for shingles and for chicken pox. Have you told your doctor about your vaccination and chicken pox history?


Posted by @trishd, Sun, Mar 19 at 5:39pm CDT

Hi @colleenyoung No I haven't me mentioned it to my doctor, I really must do it. Thank you for the directions on how to navigate the discussions, I've only joined and it's very confusing.. I'll go check out the other members comments now.


Posted by @trishd, Sun, Mar 19 at 5:42pm CDT

Hi @hopeful33250 Now that you mention it I have noticed that my balance is bad. I have always been a clumsy person and my balance was always off but I've noticed in the last year or two it seems to be worse.


Posted by @hopeful33250, Sun, Mar 19 at 6:27pm CDT

@trishd This probably should be mentioned to your doctor as well. Keep a list of questions for your next visit. Teresa

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