What Is Face Pain?
Table of Contents
You may feel pain in any region of your face, such as the:
The pain is typically throbbing, sharp, or aching. Some patients describe it as a feeling of pressure and tingling in the face. Facial pain is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. In fact, it is one of the most frequent reasons that people visit outpatient clinics and emergency departments.
Injury or headaches are the typical causes of face pain; however, other conditions can also be responsible for the pain. For example, pain felt in the face can originate from another location within the body, which may be caused by a variety of potential medical conditions. Face pain caused by migraine headaches can be extremely debilitating. This type of pain usually presents as unilateral throbbing in certain areas of the face. Another cause of severe facial pain is known as trigeminal neuralgia, as we’ll discuss shortly.
Facial Pain CausesWhen clinicians assess a patient for face pain, they often rely on a variety of diagnostic tests to help understand what’s causing your pain.
These tests help them discern the reason for the pain from a wide variety of potential conditions. The more common facial pain causes include:
- Headache and migraine
- Sinus infections
- Dental problems
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
If neuralgia is leading to facial pain, the trigeminal nerve is often involved. This nerve is responsible for controlling the communication of nerve impulses from the face to the mouth, teeth, and nasal cavity. This nerve is composed of three divisions that innervate different areas of the face. These three separate divisions include the:
- Ophthalmic division (V-1)
- Maxillary division (V-2)
- Mandibular division (V-3)
Current research has revealed that approximately 45,000 people suffer from trigeminal neuralgia. Alterations in the neurological structures, due to damage or inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, lead to this severe form of pain. For those suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, blood vessels apply pressure on nerves near the base of the brain. This pain can be so debilitating that patients often are unable to perform simple daily functions, such as walking, eating, and, in some cases, talking.
Facial Pain TreatmentsThe face pain treatment your doctor ultimately decides on depends on the cause of your pain.
For example, headaches are usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relieving medications first. In more severe cases of migraine headaches, physicians may prescribe Botox injections or antidepressant medication. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Treatments for mild to moderate facial pain
The typical treatments for patients with mild to moderate pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relieving medications. These are the over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen that you’re likely already familiar with.
Since these do have side effects when taken for long periods of time, it’s important to incorporate other complementary treatments along with them. At-home, complementary treatments that can help with mild cases of facial pain may include:
- Heat and cold therapy
- Stress reduction techniques
- Drinking enough water
- Reducing any pain triggers, such as certain foods, smells, noises, or lights
Other alternative therapies are also available. Examples of alternative treatments that have provided effective relief for patients include:
Treatments for other forms of facial pain
If you’re suffering from pain from dental or sinus issues, it’s best to talk to a dentist or general practitioner. They can help eliminate the specific reason for your pain.
For example, a dentist can perform a procedure that eliminates pain associated with an injured tooth that is causing face pain. Conversely, a physician can prescribe certain medications that help to clear a sinus infection that may causing pressure or other pain in your face. Other, more specific causes of face pain such as temporomandibular joint disorders may be relieved with exercises and mouth guards.
Treating moderate to severe cases
If your pain is unresponsive to at-home care or alternative therapies, you may want to talk to a specialist. There are treatments that can help.
For example, occipital nerve blocks and sphenopalatine ganglion blocks can help block the pain caused by inflammation of the trigeminal nerve. Other treatments, such as peripheral nerve stimulation and spinal cord stimulation may be warranted in more severe cases. Finally, botulinum toxin type A (or Botox) can also help relieve pain from trigeminal neuralgia or severe migraines. Likewise, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants, anti-depressant medications, or other pain medications to help manage the pain.
In only the most severe cases do doctors recommend surgery. If that’s the case for you, working with highly-trained surgeon can help you reduce your pain.
ConclusionTo help create movement and expression, your face relies on a complex structure of nerves, blood vessels, glands, and bones. Any of these, when damaged, can lead to pain.
Face pain can be caused by a wide variety of underlying conditions or injuries to these nerves or bones. The more common causes of face pain include:
- Migraine headaches
- Dental problems
- Sinus issues
- In severe cases, trigeminal neuralgia
Although face pain is often widespread, there are several treatment options that can provide effective relief of both mild and severe face pain. Your first and most important step is talking to a doctor. They can diagnose the cause of your pain and suggest treatments that work for you. You can find a pain doctor in your area by clicking the button below or looking for one in your area by using the tips here: https://paindoctor.com/pain-management-doctors/.
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