FAQ’s on Facial Pain
Facial pain may be described as resembling a headache, but aching in the facial region, or piercing and throbbing pain that radiates from the neck or head, and into the face. Facial pain can vary in degree and level. Some patients report severe pain that is piercing in nature, while others describe an achiness that does not subside.
The most common areas of the face affected by facial pain are along the jaw line, above and beneath the eyes, and along either side of the face. If left untreated, facial pain can become chronic and long lasting, interrupting a person’s routine and daily activities.
What are the Causes of Facial Pain?
Facial pain may be caused by a variety of reasons, from chronic migraine pain, cervical disc bulge or herniating, or neuropathy. The challenges faced in treating facial pain are a result of the difficulty locating the cause for the pain.
Facial pain may also occur due to dental work or surgery that has been conducted, resulting in pain. TMJ disorders may result in pain in the face. TMJ and dental related facial pain is commonly seen in the jaw line and can be caused by jaw arthritis or temporomandibular joint disorders (Cohen, Pain, 1993). Muscle pain and jaw issues may be causing the facial pain.
Another common cause of facial pain is neuropathy of the trigeminal nerve. When the nerve in the facial region becomes inflamed, irritated and problematic, facial pain may develop. It is this nerve that communicates with the brain and provides sensory information to be processed. When the nerve becomes irritated, even the most minimal of activities, such as smiling or brushing the teeth, may cause severe throbbing and chronic pain in the face.
Do Migraines Cause Facial Pain?
Not all cases of migraines result in face pain; however, some cases of chronic headaches or migraines do cause neck and facial pain. According to Johns Hopkins Medical Center, some migraine pain may be felt in the face, often mistaken as a sinus headache that doesn’t go away. Chronic facial pain is pain in the face that lasts for weeks and months at a time, with little to no relief or time of remission.
Other causes for facial pain involve cluster type headaches, known simply as clusters. This type of headache is much less common than a migraine but no less in severity. The headache is brief but typically more intense than a migraine and usually occurs in clusters over the course of a period of time.
Patients with cluster headaches report a stabbing and severe pain that is typically behind the eye. The pain can radiate into other areas of the face and is sometimes misdiagnosed as a sinus headache. A San Diego pain specialist who knows which symptoms to evaluate can help diagnose what is causing the facial pain, as it may be related to other issues (Ashkenazi et al., American Headache Society, 2011).
What is Atypical Facial Pain?
This pain disorder that occurs in the face is similar to the neuropathy pain or trigeminal neuralgia condition. Atypical facial pain is usually caused by injury, due to facial trauma or dental or sinus surgery. The trigeminal nerve may be injured and result in facial pain that is burning, aching and throbbing in nature.
This type of facial pain may last for hours or minutes at a time. Some cases reveal a pain that comes and goes, while others show a continuous pain that lasts for hours at a time. This form of facial pain can greatly impact a person’s quality of life if left untreated because the pain is so severe and unmanageable.
How Is Facial Pain Treated?
While every facial pain case is unique and each patient is treated as an individual, many of the patients respond well to medication that is designed to decrease symptoms of pain. Other patients that do not respond well to medication may receive relief from local nerve blocks.
One of the first steps in treating facial pain is to identify the nerve root or site of the problem. Nerve tests may be administered to help identify the cause of pain. The tests help to locate areas that affected the most so that nerve blocks may be provided in that location. When a trial nerve block is conducted, it generally lasts for a few hours. Once identified, the patient may undergo traditional nerve block treatment that may last for weeks or months at a time. A trigeminal neuralgia radiofrequency ablation may relieve pain for over six months at a time.
When a San Diego pain clinic doctor evaluates facial pain, it may take some time before the proper diagnosis is made. However, once it is the chances of a successful treatment are well over 50%. If you or a loved one is suffering from significant facial pain, let the California Pain Network connect you with the best pain management San Diego offers. Call today (619) 500-1573 for more information and scheduling!