What are the most common causes of pain in the left hand?

Left hand pain is a symptom of several different conditions, some much more serious than others. However, it is unusual for people to experience pain in one hand but not the other without an obvious and specific injury, making paying attention to symptoms very important. People who use one hand more than the other are at the highest risk for pain associated with repetitive use injuries and cramps, but certain degenerative conditions like diabetes and multiple sclerosis can also be to blame. Pain radiating down the arm could also indicate an impending heart attack. In general, anyone who has unexplained hand pain that doesn't go away on its own should seek medical attention to rule out serious problems.

arm injury

By far the most common cause of left hand pain is an injury to the left arm, wrist, or elbow. Fractures, sprains, and bruises can cause sensation in the hand, even if the hand wasn't actually hurt. The human arm is made up of a series of interconnected muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Damage in one area is often felt elsewhere as other muscles are forced to work harder; the pain also tends to spread from the site of the initial aggravation to surrounding areas.

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Most people think of wrist tenderness and tingling when they think of carpal tunnel syndrome, but hand pain is also included. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve in the wrist becomes pinched between the bones, usually as a result of excessive and repetitive motion. Typists and people who spend a lot of time working on the computer frequently develop this condition, as do inspectors, scanners, and clerks—basically anyone who commonly holds their wrists at an angle.

Carpal tunnel usually happens to both wrists at the same time, but a lot of it depends on the activity that caused it. Someone who uses their left hand more than their right may develop pain on only one side. Wearing a brace to stabilize the muscles is one of the best ways to combat this; However, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tissue and restore nerve function.


Tendonitis in the wrist, fingers, or lower arm can also be to blame. This condition occurs when one or more tendons become inflamed, causing swelling and irritation or, in extreme cases, a complete loss of sensation or permanent nerve damage. Several tendons run up and down the hand connecting the muscles of the fingers with those of the wrist and arm, and inflammation can occur in one or all of them.

Most people who have left hand pain from tendonitis develop it from straining or overusing the muscles in their hands, fingers, or wrists. Pianists, gardeners and painters are some of the most common patients. In most cases, the swelling will go away on its own, but certain medications may be prescribed to relieve swelling and speed healing.

Repetitive motion syndrome and cramps

The pain can sometimes occur after repetitive movements that do not damage the nerves or tendons, so it cannot be properly classified as carpal tunnel or tendinitis. This type of injury usually looks more like a simple sprain as it is usually not very serious and will usually go away on its own. Many medical professionals say that this type of damage is due to "repetitive motif syndrome", although there is some controversy when it comes to classifying it as a formal condition. Other experts simply refer to this as an overuse injury.

Muscle cramps are similar. Left-handed people who spend a lot of time doing things like writing, drawing, or painting often experience painful cramps if they grip the pencil or brush too tightly, or if their bodies are positioned at an awkward or unnatural angle. Cramps can usually be relieved with a combination of stretching and rest, although over-the-counter pain relievers can also be helpful in the short term.

Diseases and degenerative conditions

Pain that does not go away on its own or that tends to come and go without a clear connection to any activity or use may be caused by a more serious medical condition. Diabetes is a common example. People with diabetes have trouble regulating their blood sugar levels, which can cause inflammation and pain in different parts of the body. A person may feel pain in the left hand one day, but in the right the next day, for example. Most of the time this will subside once the blood chemistry returns to normal, but not always; When left untreated, diabetes can cause lasting damage to your hands and feet.

Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis can also be a cause. Multiple sclerosis patients typically face a slow deterioration of nerve and muscle control as the protective sheath around the body's major nerve structures wears away and breaks down prematurely. The disease is generally not curable, but patients are often able to control their symptoms, including left hand pain, through a number of different drug regimens.

Heart attack

One of the most well-known signs of an impending heart attack is sudden, stabbing pain in the arm, often including or sometimes even starting with the hand. In these cases, pain in the left hand is often just one of several more serious symptoms, including tightness and crushing chest pain, fainting and shortness of breath, and a sudden onset of overwhelming fatigue. Anyone experiencing or seeing another person experiencing these things should receive immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment can often be the difference between life and death.

Medical interventions and treatment options

Medical professionals generally advise people to monitor left hand pain closely and seek help if it recurs or worsens over time. It's not generally considered "normal" to regularly have pain in one hand but not the other, and any pain is usually a sign that something is wrong. Health care providers who can diagnose the root cause can often provide the best treatment.

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