For a long time, I've had a sore spot on the back of my head/neck. It hurts when I apply pressure to it, but not to the point where I feel dizzy or nauseous. Sometimes I get these short, stabbing headaches that are very brief - the only way I can describe it is by comparing it to a bubble popping. It's that quick.
I have pulled muscles in my neck and the base of my skull several times in my life. I'll twist my head a certain way and get a sharp, shooting pain up my neck and my head that WILL make me feel nauseous, but it only lasts a minute or so. I'm not sure if I've torn a ligament or something that's causing the sore spot or if it's something else like a damaged nerve. I'm just not sure if I should go to the doctor or not because MRI's and CAT scans are expensive and I don't want to end up costing my family a ton of money for nothing (we have insurance, but it's still expensive...) I also have an anxiety disorder, which probably has something to do with the headaches because I get anxious thinking about the possibility if something is wrong with me.
I definitely get tender in this area and nothing major seems to be the issue... my doctors said it could be tension that built up over a long time and now there are very difficult knots/trigger points that cause pain and many problems. Then the surrounding muscles try to compensate and the whole area is tight and aches, from the upper back and shoulders and the muscles that attach to the head. Tight muscles can cause nerves to be irritated or pinched, which could be the shooting pain you described. I know I get these pains and also some tingling/numbness on one side of my upper back/lower neck. Anxiety might not have caused this, but it can certainly make it worse since it makes you more tense. I actually take Xanax occasionally when I'm struggling to keep my muscles relaxed as possible.
I completely understand what you mean about the CT scans and MRI's. Likely you would have to meet a deductible and it would still be expensive with insurance. I would talk to your doctor about it and perhaps it won't be suggested to you right now. Sometimes they will do other tests first and if they still can't figure it out, then they order an MRI. I hear about a lot of people who get MRI's that are completely normal, so I understand about the wasting money thing. Your doctor will let you know if they highly recommend one.
Unfortunately treating this isn't easy and might be trial and error. You could try massage therapy (or trigger point massage), physical therapy, or something similar. I think it's a great place to start. Just be sure to really describe your symptoms to your doctor. I often downplay things and have been given tension headache medicine, but this is no tension headache and I don't want the same thing to happen to others. I hope you are able to find something that helps soon!