What Causes a Sharp Pain in Left Side of the Head?

Many conditions can cause sharp pain in the left side of the head. According to the Family Doctor website, migraine headaches are one of the most common causes of head pain. However, migraine headaches usually cause throbbing or dull aching pain, not sharp pain. Sharp head pain can manifest suddenly, and it can appear on one side of the head or both sides of the head. In some cases, sharp head pain can impair a person's ability to perform her activities of daily living.

Many conditions can cause sharp pain in the left side of the head.

Brain Tumor

A brain tumor can cause sharp pain in the left side of the head. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, or NBTS -- a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring hope and providing leadership within the brain tumor community -- a brain tumor occupies space within the skull and can disrupt normal brain activities. A brain tumor can also increase pressure within the skull, shift the brain or damage nerves and healthy brain tissue. Brain tumor-related symptoms largely depend on the location and the size of the tumor. The NBTS states that identifying the presence of a brain tumor is the critical first step in establishing a treatment plan. Possible signs and symptoms associated with a brain tumor include sharp, persistent head pain; gradual loss of sensation in the extremities; vision problems; unsteadiness; dizziness; hearing loss; speaking difficulties; and behavior changes.

Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis can cause a sharp pain in the left side of the head. MayoClinic.com states that giant cell arteritis involves a painful inflammation of the arterial lining. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the body's organs and tissues. Giant cell arteritis most commonly affects the arteries of the head, particularly the arteries in the temples, and is therefore sometimes known as temporal arteritis. Common signs and symptoms associated with giant cell arteritis include persistent, sharp head pain; tenderness in the affected area; reduced visual acuity; double vision; scalp tenderness; jaw pain with chewing; fever; and unintentional weight loss. In some cases, giant cell arteritis leads to serious health complications such as blindness and stroke. Certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of giant cell arteritis, including advanced age, being a woman and being of Scandinavian descent.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia can cause sharp, left-sided head pain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, or NINDS, trigeminal neuralgia is a nerve disorder that causes sharp, stabbing or electric shock-like pain in and around the face. Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by multiple sclerosis or entrapment and subsequent inflammation of the trigeminal nerve by a swollen blood vessel or tumor. The trigeminal nerve carries sensory information between the brain and the skin of the face. Although trigeminal neuralgia can affect people of all ages, it usually manifests in older adults. Along with sharp pain in and around the face, common signs and symptoms associated with trigeminal neuralgia include short bouts of intense pain in the affected area, pain that affects only one side of the face and head at a time, and pain attacks that increase in frequency over time.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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