140 New Jersey 17 #101, Paramus, NJ 07652 41 5th Ave, New York, NY 10003 (646) 419-3105 Book Appointment Advanced Headache Center

Thunderclap Headaches

Updated on Jul 9, 2021 by Dr. Amr Hosny (Headache Specialist) of Advanced Headache Center

Thunderclap headaches cause serious, debilitating pain for about a minute. Although the pain tapers off some, the headache itself can last for five minutes to several hours. While rare, these headaches may arise from an underlying medical condition or strike on their own. When you start to feel headache pain begin, that’s the time to seek a headache center near me. Dr. Amr Hosny at the Advanced Headache Center in NYC and northern NJ has the expertise to diagnose your thunderclap headache and provide thorough treatment. Call today for a consultation.

Are Thunderclap Headaches Common?

Thunderclap headaches are rare, with no more than 43 cases per 100,000 each year in the United States. The pain from these headaches, however, has been reported as some of the worst ever experienced. The pain intensity usually peaks within 30 seconds to one minute. Unlike migraine and tension headache, the pain often subsides within five minutes to a few hours. In rare cases, these headaches can last a week. Most sufferers are over 18 years old.

It would help if you got the right thunderclap headache treatment since the cause is often a serious underlying medical condition related to the brain. Dr. Amr Hosny, a pain management expert specializing in headaches, has years of experience diagnosing different headaches, from optical migraines to occipital neuralgia. Visit one of the eight offices of the Advanced Headache Center, from Manhattan to Paramus, NJ.

What Causes Thunderclap Headaches?

Secondary headaches like thunderclap headaches are caused by some underlying medical condition, either from an injury or an illness. Just like in cases of cervicogenic headachessinus headachesspinal headaches, and post-concussion headaches, thunderclap headaches happen because of another medical condition, such as:

  • Neurovascular disorders
  • Infectious disorders, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • Intracranial hypertension
  • Spontaneous intracranial hypotension
  • A subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome
  • A cervical artery dissection
  • Cerebral venous thrombosis
  • Pituitary apoplexy
  • Cerebrospinal fluid leakage
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Medication overuse headaches brought on by consuming cocaine or amphetamines.
  • Pregnancy and delivery that causes a hypertensive crisis
  • Binge drinking alcohol
  • Smoking cannabis to excess

When there’s no medical reason for the pain, which is even rarer, thunderclap headaches are termed primary headaches caused by an unknown brain disorder. Primary headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and chronic headaches. These headaches, which can last one hour to 10 days, are most prevalent in young adults. They’re often caused by physical triggers like coughing, exercising, or sexual activity.

What Are the Symptoms of Thunderclap Headaches?

A thunderclap headache is a serious medical condition. Since it can become life-threatening, you must seek immediate medical attention for any pain that intensifies in less than a minute. Usually, you suffer from nausea or feel like vomiting during these moments of pain.

You may also feel a change in how your head hurts, especially if you’re over 50 years old. Sometimes, the headaches cause stiffness in your neck and jaw. Besides these experiences from the headaches, you may observe additional symptoms such as:

  • A fever
  • Problems with your speech
  • Difficulty focusing on objects, double vision, or a drooping eyelid
  • Cranial nerve abnormalities that can cause conditions like trigeminal neuralgia
  • Problems with your coordination and balance
  • Difficulties swallowing
  • Motor deficits that can lead to spasticity or uncontrolled movements
  • Photophobia, meaning you become extremely sensitive to light
  • An altered mental state
  • Seizures

How Are Thunderclap Headaches Treated?

It can be difficult to judge whether your thunderclap headache is primary or secondary in nature without going through a complete medical evaluation. Dr. Hosny, the specialist from the Advanced Headache Center in NYC and NJ, suggests writing down all the symptoms you experience before your appointment, so you don’t forget any important details. You still may need to undergo CT scans, MRIs, or even a spinal tap to rule out any trauma associated with your brain.

Dr. Hosny personalizes your thunderclap headache treatment plan, as it depends on your medical evaluation and diagnosis. Always follow your doctor’s advice; he has your best interests and well-being at heart. Some treatments include:

  • When there’s no medical condition involved, you may only need to take bed rest while avoiding all physical activities.
  • If you have a medical condition associated with the pain, you may have to undergo some form of minimally invasive surgery.
  • Your specialist may recommend some home remedies as a further preventative measure.

Where Can I Find the Best Thunderclap Headache Treatment?

A headache specialist can do much more for you than your family doctor if you’re suffering from headaches. Reaching the right diagnosis is an important first step, and the top headache center in NYC has the equipment and expertise to discover the true cause of your pain. Only then can your headache be effectively treated.

Dr. Hosny and his team use a multimodal approach, meaning he may recommend more than one solution, often at the same time. At the Advanced Headache Center, you get access to several thunderclap headache treatments, such as:

For the best thunderclap headache treatment, contact the experts at a headache center near you in either Midtown Manhattan or Bergen County, NJ. Stop your pain now and keep it from coming back.

Dr. Amr Hosny has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. Advanced Headache Center 41 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
(646) 419-3105