Miami Headache Blog

Pulsating Headache

Maribel Cordova-Ramirez - Sunday, March 09, 2014

Updated: January 25th, 2017

Do You Feel a Pulsating Pain?

Do you experience throbbing headaches, also known as pounding headaches or pulsating headaches? These painful, distracting headaches can make it difficult for you to manage your day-to-day activities at work and home. They often are very resistant to common “over the counter” headache medicines.

The truth is, there are many types of headache. 

Each type suggests a different underlying cause. It’s often the case that, when the underlying issue is treated, the headache goes away for good. However, this requires a professional diagnosis by true headache experts.

Headache pains can be of different types and vary in duration and severity. Among them, a throbbing/pulsating headache can feel especially disabling. Unlike other headaches where the pain is only a mild, nagging one and daily routine is not altogether affected, pulsating headaches are much worse. They force the individual to stop all activity and lie down to rest till the pain goes away.

Pulsating Headache— Which One Is Mine?

Most headache sufferers are well-aware of pulsating headaches as they accompany three of the most common type of headaches: 

  • Migraine: Pulsating headache is a common feature of a migraine where the person wakes up in the morning feeling a sharp, throbbing pain. Pulsating pain can last for long hours and be accompanied with other migraine symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and light and sound sensitivity.

  • Tension Headaches: Tension headaches are mostly caused due to stress or muscle tension (wrong posture, straining, etc). In many cases, they are only episodic in nature and may cause a mild, nagging pain. However, headaches that lasts for 15 days or more in a month are categorized as chronic tension headaches. The sufferer might experience pulsating headaches on some days.

  • Cluster Headache: It is a severe kind of headache that tends to strike abruptly at night. A sudden, shooting pain wakes up the person from deep slumber. The pain is mostly unilateral and throbbing. Cluster headaches come in a cycle of loops where they strike for many days in a month and then come back after a few days. 

A pulsating headache is a symptom that is experienced primarily with the above three headaches. Only in rare cases, the cause is an underlying problem like a tumor. Correct diagnosis of the type of headache is the key to putting an end to the debilitating pain of pulsating headaches.

MEDICAL FACTS: What Causes These Throbbing Headaches?

A throbbing headache produces pain that noticeably ebbs and flows in rhythm with the sufferer’s heartbeat. This headache can arise suddenly and unexpectedly in someone who has no history of regular headaches. There are many potential causes, and some suggest a serious medical issue. Some possible causes include:

Caffeine Withdrawal

In many cases, throbbing pain is created by the dilation or constriction of blood vessels in the head or neck. This can be caused by ingesting caffeine or–hours to many days later–the body recovering from caffeine’s effects. Pain caused by caffeine withdrawal generally manifests near the front of the head.

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions to foodstuffs, airborne allergens and more can cause pulsating headaches. Headaches centered low in the front of the head suggest that sinus pressure is to blame. However, you also should check for rash or other symptoms that suggest a different, potentially unfamiliar allergen.

Venous Malformation in the Brain

Vascular damage in and around the cranium and brain may cause persistent headaches of many kinds, but throbbing pain is common. Special diagnostic imaging tests are used to uncover this issue. They pinpoint the position of veins and capillaries that appear “swollen” or malformed.


A migraine is a constellation of symptoms with a chronic, severe headache at the center. The pain can come on suddenly and may include seeing an “aura” or “halo,” plus sensitivity to light and sound. Dozens of different medical conditions can cause migraine, but it also can appear alone. Many sufferers find they have a family history of migraines.

If You Suffer From Pulsating or Chronic Headaches, It’s Time to Get a Diagnosis

Do you experience painful headaches two or more days a week? Have you noticed new headaches appearing more than two days a week for the last two weeks? In either case, accurate diagnosis is critical to long-term wellness. With the right treatment, you can alleviate headache pain and may be able to arrest the underlying cause before it gets worse.

At Miami Headache Institute, our experts use cutting-edge technology to uncover undiagnosed problems that might be the root cause of headache. Each one of our patients receives a customized treatment plan to fully and effectively address the real issues. In many cases, it is possible to completely eliminate headaches at the source. This outcome even can be true for sufferers of severe and chronic migraines. 

The Miami Headache Institute has gained its reputation as one of the premier medical facilities treating a variety of headaches. Our focus is on precise and expert headache diagnosis that enables us to offer the most effective treatment options. Do not ignore your pulsating headache symptoms. Let us help you. Call us at (305) 694-2626 or use our contact form to book a consultation. 

Don’t let the stresses of life get in the way of what’s truly important

Our migraine & headache experts can help you. The Miami Headache Institute uses the latest technology and treatments to ensure the most effective results. Contact us today.

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