Pain in Left Temple of Head: Causes of Headache in the Left Temple and Treatments

Pain in Left Temple of Head

Pain in the left temple is often caused by simple things like not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, stress, anxiety, or tension. Even though the cause of temple pain is generally nothing to worry about, right or left temple pain can cause severe headaches. Very often, resting, placing a cold compress on your temple, or using relaxing essential oils can relieve pounding, pulsating, or dull pains in your temples.

Temple headaches can feel like a dull throb that is unrelenting on one side of your head. Or the headache pain may start suddenly and give you stabbing or piercing pains in your temples. Sometimes, headaches from the back of your head or tension in your neck can radiate to your left temple or right one and cause sharp temple pain.

It is, of course, natural to worry about persistent gnawing dull headache pains in your temples. In this article, you will find out what causes intense pains in the left temple. This will help you tell the difference between headache pain in your temples that can be easily relieved and when you should see a doctor.

What is the Left Temple?

Your temples are located on either side of your forehead just above your cheekbone behind your eyes.

The reason for headaches that only affect your temple is explained by Dr. Bhupendra Patel, who is a Professor of Ophthalmic Plastic and Facial Cosmetic Surgery. Dr. Patel says that your temporal artery and the frontal branch of facial nerves pass through the temple.1 If these arteries or nerves become irritated or inflamed, the result can be dull to sharp throbbing headaches that may start gradually or come on suddenly.

Left temple pain location

Left temple

Headache Pain on the Left Side – Is It a Reason for Concern?

You shouldn’t be overly concerned about headache pain that affects only one side of your head. In the majority of cases, lifestyles choices are to blame for painful headaches, even the ones that cause intense throbbing temple pain.

For example, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, being under a lot of stress, not getting enough sleep, or being hungry can all cause varying degrees of headache pain.

If you have incessant pulsating temple headaches and can’t get right or left temple pain relief, you can find out at the end of the article what to do.

Symptoms of Headache in the Left Temple

Depending on the cause of your headache and its severity, you may have different symptoms along with the pain in your temples. For example, neurologist Dr. Neil Lava says that temple headaches can cause some of the following symptoms:2

  • Moderate painful pressure felt in on one side of the head
  • Head pain that starts gradually in the middle of the day
  • Sharp pain in the left side of head that comes and goes
  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Throbbing pain that moves from one side of the head to the other
  • Nausea and digestive upset
  • Sharp pulsating pains behind one eye
  • Headache pain that gets worse when you move your head

Types of Headaches in the Left Temple

Let’s look in more detail at the different types of headaches that can affect your left temple and what can trigger the pain.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common type of headaches that cause temple pain on one side of the head.

Dr. Kathleen Romito on WebMD says that tension headaches can feel like aching pains that affect your temples or cause headache pain at the back of your head. Pain from tension headaches usually causes vise-like pressure in your head rather than pounding head pains. The pain can start slowly and feel like gnawing head pain, or it can start suddenly with intense pressure in your head.3

Some of the main triggers for tension headaches are stress, hunger, muscle strain, or changes in your brain chemistry.4

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches can be the cause of stinging sharp pain in the left side of your head resulting in temple pain and eye pain.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that cluster headaches cause sudden sharp headaches that can last for up to 3 hours. They generally affect just one side of the head behind the eye and the pain spreads to your temple. Cluster headaches may start with nausea and, as the pain progresses, cause changes in blood pressure and heart rate.5

It’s not known what triggers cluster headaches but doctors think that facial nerves are affected, causing one-sided headache pain.6


Migraines can cause throbbing, pulsating pains on one side of your head and can sometimes affect both sides.

According to Dr. John Cunha on eMedicineHealth, migraines usually start off with disturbances in vision or sensations. That is followed by pounding head pain on one side of the head that can also cause nausea. Other symptoms could be extra sensitivity to light, fatigue, lack of appetite, or muscle tension.7

It is thought that dilated blood vessels in the head and a change in brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are connected with migraines. Different individuals have different triggers; for example, eating chocolate, hunger, stress, or birth control pills can trigger migraines. Very often, sleep can help relieve migraine pain.

Anxiety headaches

Sharp pains on left side of your head or right side that come and go could often be due to stress and anxiety.

There are many ways that anxiety can affect your body and triggering migraines is just one way. For example, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorder can cause thumping headaches and migraines. The anxiety can trigger head pains around one side of the temples as well as the classic symptoms of a migraine.8

If stress and anxiety are causing frequent bouts of pressing headaches or severe migraines, you can find my article on natural remedies for anxiety and stress helpful.

Ice pick headaches

Sharp stabbing pain in the left side of head could be caused by a type of headache called ice pick headaches.

As the name suggests, ice pick headaches feel like someone stabbing your head with a sharp object. Neurologist Dr. Neil Lava says that these jabbing head pains usually occur in just one of the temples just behind the eye. The temple headache pain is described as stinging, piercing, severe pains that happen for a few seconds.9

If you suffer from migraines or cluster headaches, then there is more chance that you will also have ice pick headaches from time to time. Ice pick headaches can be difficult to treat because they happen suddenly and don’t last a long time.

External compression headaches

Anything that puts constant pressure on your temples, forehead, or scalp can cause compression headaches. This type of pressure can cause temple pain when pressed and become more painful the longer the pressure is applied.

The type of head pain that compression headaches cause is described as moderate pressure in the head that is relieved when the source of compression is removed. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that helmets, headbands, tight hats, or other types of head-wear are the most common reasons for external compression headaches.20

Lifestyle Factors that Cause Headache Pain in the Left Temple

The main reasons for pain in the left temple and eye pain are connected with lifestyle factors. Let’s look briefly at some of the causes of left side headache pain.

  • Stress. Prolonged stress can result in dull pains in your left temple that may spread across your forehead or to the back of your neck. Stress can also cause tension in your shoulders and neck. Doctors say that stress is the most common reason for tension headaches.10
  • Lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation can be a reason for forehead headaches that creates a pressing feeling on the top and sides of your head. The journal Cephalalgia says that not getting enough sleep can cause dull head pains that are easily resolved by taking analgesics or getting more sleep.11
  • Hunger. A study published in the journal BMJ found that a lack of food can be a trigger for many types of headaches including migraines. In some cases, hunger accounted for at least 30% of all reported headaches.12
  • Alcohol. Many scientific studies point to the fact that overindulgence in alcohol can result in severe headaches such as temporal headaches. Even small quantities of alcohol can also be a trigger for migraines and increase the intensity of cluster headaches.13

Medical Issues that Cause Headaches on the Left Side

Although lifestyle choices are the most common reasons for headaches that affect just one side of your head, there are also medical reasons for left temple pain that comes and goes.

Blocked sinuses

Upper respiratory infections can cause blocked sinuses which, in turn, can give you a throbbing headache in your temples and forehead.

According to Dr. Benjamin Wedro on MedicineNet, sinus inflammation can result in headaches that affect your forehead and radiate pain to your temples. Blocked sinuses increase pressure in the cavities around your nose and in your forehead. Sinus headaches are usually accompanied by a runny nose and incessant cough. You may find that your headache gets worse when you bend over.14

Many essential oils are effective for sinus relief. Using eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, or lavender oil are all quick and effective remedies to unblock inflamed sinuses.

Cold or flu

The cold or flu virus can cause many unpleasant symptoms including persistent headaches that feel as if pressure is building up in your head.

Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that cold and flu headaches can cause pain around the eyes which is often accompanied by blocked sinuses. Headaches are more common with flu symptoms rather than cold symptoms.15

There are many effective home remedies to help treat flu and cold symptoms. These can help reduce the duration of flu and help you feel better quicker.

Giant cell arteritis (temporal arteritis)

Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is an inflammation of the arteries in your temples which can cause pain and tenderness at your temples. This is a condition which is also called temporal arteritis.

Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic say that temporal arteritis usually affects people over the age of 50. The condition can cause pulsating, pressing headaches in one or both of your temples or forehead. There may also be tenderness on your temples. Other symptoms include:16

  • Fatigue
  • Jaw pain that intensifies after chewing
  • Vision problems
  • Muscle aches
  • Unexplained loss of weight

Temporal arteritis can cause serious complications, including a stroke. If you have any of the above symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD, TMJ)

Dysfunction of your jaw and temporal bones of your skull can cause painful temple headaches and facial pain. Problems to the joint between your jaw bone and skull bones or with the muscles around your jaw are referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder. The pain in this joint and your temples may become worse when chewing or eating.

A study published in the journal Pain reported that TMD is a common cause of headache pain that results in mild to severe temple pain. This can result in tenderness on the sides of the head behind the eyes, temple pain when chewing, swelling on one side of the face, a sharp pain in the ear, or toothache.17  

Cervicogenic headache

Cervicogenic headaches cause pain at the top of your neck that can radiate and cause left sided or right sided temple pain.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, issues with your cervical neck can cause neck pain, migraine, or tension headaches. The pain usually just affects one side of your head and can cause sharp pain in the left temple region or right temple. Cervicogenic headaches also cause reduced range of motion when moving the neck.18

Sometimes, exercises to strengthen your back and spine as well as neck exercises can help to reduce neck pain and back pain.

Left Sided Headaches Caused by Neurological Issues

Damage to the facial nerves on one or both sides of your head can result in neurological issues that can cause pain in the left temple of the head.

Occipital neuralgia

One such cause of a neurological problem that can cause one-sided pain behind your eyes and on the left side of your face is occipital neuralgia.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine say that you have occipital nerves on each side of your head. Irritation to the nerves can cause stinging sharp pains where the irritation occurs or along the length of the nerve. Depending on the damage to the nerve, the sensation may range from a tingling sensation to shooting electric pains. Sometimes the scalp or side of your head can become very tender to touch.19

Other Causes of Headaches in Your Left Temple

In rare cases, persistent chronic headaches that cause throbbing headaches can be an indicator of a more serious condition.

Stroke. Strokes cause weakness on one side of your body along with vision problems and speech problems. On rare occasions, a stroke can cause a severe migraine that may affect just one side of your head.21 Please read my article on the early signs of a stroke for more information.

Brain tumor. Doctors say that most headaches are not caused by brain tumors. However, if you have constant headaches that don’t respond to rest or painkillers, you should speak to your doctor. Other symptoms of a brain tumor include seizures, balance problems, headaches with blurry vision, personality changes, or changes in speech or hearing.22

Nummular headaches. A headache that causes continual pain in a small area of your head could be a nummular headache, or a coin-shaped headache. The pain can be intense and last for around 2 hours. However, there are usually no associated symptoms with nummular headaches. These types of headaches are rarely serious.23

Neck Pain and Headache on the Left Side

In some cases you may suffer from pain in the left side of your head as well as in your neck. There are a few conditions that I mentioned previously that cause pain in the left side of the neck and head, and these can cause your neck to feel sore and stiff.

Occipital neuralgia

According to doctors on WebMD, occipital neuralgia can cause sharp, intense pain in the back of the head and neck, or when you move your neck.25 This is because the occipital nerves run from the base of your skull down to the neck, and irritation of these nerves can cause a severe, jabbing pain along the length of the nerve.

Cervicogenic headaches

According to the Journal of American Osteopathic Association, cervicogenic headaches are characterized by chronic pain that is referred to the head from either bony structures or soft tissues of the neck. The head pain can be triggered by neck movement, such as rotation toward the side of pain, and can cause restricted cervical range of motion.

The journal also mentions that neck pain and muscle tension are common symptoms of a migraine attack, tension-type headache, or a combination of both.26

How to Get Rid of a Headache in Your Temple

There are many effective ways to help get rid of a left-sided temple headache quickly. Here are some quick suggestions for what to do if the left side of your head hurts.

  • A warm or cool compress pressed against your left temple can help to soothe pain in your head. This helps to relieve irritation and inflammation and can make your headache go away quicker.
  • Take a relaxing bath to help ease tension from your shoulders, upper neck, or sinuses. Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath can help alleviate temple pain and anxiety.
  • Taking a nap can help to relax your brain and get rid of a headache quickly. This is especially useful if lack of sleep has caused your tension headache.
  • Eat something to help boost your blood sugar levels and give your brain more energy to function better.
  • Use pain relievers.

Essential oils

If you have dull aches or throbbing temple pain on the left side of your head, you can use some essential oils for headache relief.

Some of the best essential oils for headache relief include:

To find out how to use a natural essential oil blend to massage into your temples for headache relief, please read my article on natural headache remedies.


Another way to help relieve tension headaches, cluster headaches and migraines is to give yourself a gentle massage.

Dr. Brunilda Nazario on WebMD says that massaging pressure points can help to relieve the symptoms of temple headaches. Dr. Nazario suggests the following self-massage for tension headache relief:

  1. Put your thumbs on your cheekbones near your ears.
  2. Gently apply pressure with your fingertips to your temples.
  3. Move your fingers up along your hairline to the middle of your head.
  4. Massage your scalp and forehead as you gradually massage your whole head.

You can boost the effectiveness of this massage technique for headache relief by putting a few drops of an essential oil blend for headaches diluted with a carrier oil on the tips of your fingers.

Can You Massage Your Temple?

When looking for natural ways to get left temple pain relief, many people wonder if it is safe to massage your temples.

According to the journal Cephalalgia, gentle temple massaging is one way to relieve pain that affects your temples. However, many people reported that the effect of massaging the temples was often momentary, wearing off when the massage stopped.23

When to See a Doctor

Most headaches that affect the left temple or right temple are not indications of anything serious. Even intense throbbing left temple pain can be a result of lack of sleep or stress. However, in some cases, headache pain that is very severe or won’t go away needs more medical attention.

Doctors from Harvard Medical School advise that you should see a doctor for headaches in the following circumstances:

  • You are over 50 and start getting headaches.
  • Headaches are accompanied by other symptoms like stiff neck, slurred speech, seizures, or numbness.
  • Temple pain and blurred vision.
  • You notice a change in the frequency or severity of your headaches.
  • You or others notice reduce mental function or changes in your personality.
  • Throbbing headaches are accompanied by tenderness in the temples.
  • Your headaches start after a trauma to your head.
  • Headaches interfere with your daily activities or your sleep patterns.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

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  7. eMedicineHealth. Migraine
  8. ADAA. Headaches.
  9. WebMD. Ice pick headaches.
  10. MayoClinic. Tension
  11. 1990 Aug;10(4):157-60.
  12. BMC Res Notes. 2015; 8: 393.
  13. J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2016 Apr-Jun; 7(2): 269–275.
  14. MedicineNet. Sinus
  15. WebMD. Flu or cold symptoms?
  16. ClevelendClinic. Temporal arteritis.
  17. Pain. 2011 Apr; 152(4): 765–771.
  18. AmericanMigraineFoundation. Cervicogenic
  19. HopkinsMedicine. Occipital neuralgia.
  20. MayoClinic. External compression headaches.
  21. WebMD. Is it a migraine or stroke?
  22. WebMD. Brain tumors in adults.
  23. Cephalalgia. 2001 Sep;21(7):718-26.
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  25. WebMD. Occipital neuralgia.
  26. American Osteopathic Association. Cervicogenic headaches

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