What Is Face Pain?
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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.
Causes Of Face PainWhen clinicians assess a patient for face pain, they often rely on a variety of diagnostic tests to help diagnose the cause. This helps them discern the reason for the pain from a wide variety of potential conditions, such as: sinus infections, dental problems, temporomandibular joint disorders, and sinusitis. In addition to these conditions, neuralgia is another frequent candidate for face pain.
When assessing for neuralgia as the potential cause of face 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 are responsible for sensory innervation of different areas of the face. These three separate divisions include the ophthalmic division (V-1), the maxillary division (V-2), and the mandibular division (V-3).
Current research has revealed that approximately 45,000 people suffer from trigeminal neuralgia. This type of extremely painful nerve pain is caused by alterations in the neurological structures due to damage or inflammation of a nerve. During trigeminal neuralgia, blood vessels apply pressure on nerves near the base of the brain. Pain triggered from trigeminal neuralgia can be so debilitating that patients often are unable to perform simple daily functions, such as walking, eating, and, in some cases, talking.
Treatments For Face PainThe treatment for face pain ultimately depends on the cause of the pain. For example, headaches are usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relieving medications. In more severe cases of migraine headaches, physicians may prescribe opioid pain relievers or antidepressant medication.
The typical treatments for patients with trigeminal neuralgia include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other pain relieving medications. Similar to patients suffering from severe headaches, opioid pain relievers or antidepressant medication may also be prescribed as potential pharmacological treatments.
Occipital nerve blocks and sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are also available to 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 has also produced favorable results in relieving pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia.
Pain caused by dental or sinus issues can typically be treated by eliminating the specific reason for the 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 be responsible for causing pressure or other pain in the face. Other, more specific causes of face pain such as temporomandibular joint disorders may be relieved with anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), joint injections, and routine chiropractic care.
In cases where patients may not be candidates for medication or other treatments, alternative therapies are also available. Examples of alternative treatments that have provided effective relief for patients include relaxation, guided imagery, chiropractic pain management, and acupuncture.
ConclusionTo help facilitate movement and expression, the face uses a complex structure of nerves, blood vessels, glands, and bones. Face pain can be caused by a wide variety of underlying conditions or injuries to these nerves or bones. Examples include migraine headaches, dental problems, sinus issues, and in severe cases, trigeminal neuralgia.
Regardless of the cause of face pain, at one time or another, most people will experience some type of face pain. Although face pain is often widespread, there are several treatment options that can provide effective relief of both mild and severe face pain.
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