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Conditions

Face pain

What is face pain?

Face pain (or Trigeminal Neuralgia) is pain felt in any part of the face, including the mouth and eyes. While face pain is normally due to an injury or a headache, facial pain may also be the result of a serious medical condition.

What causes face pain?

Some causes for facial pain include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Sinus infection
  • Migraine headaches
  • Dental problems
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD)
  • Neuropathic facial pain (i.e. – trigeminal neuralgia, occipital neuralgia)

Symptoms

You may feel as though your pain came out of nowhere and may experience these symptoms:

  • Brief periods of stabbing or shooting pain
  • Pain is triggered by things such as brushing your teeth, washing your face, shaving, or putting on makeup
  • Pain lasts a few seconds to several minutes, and occurs several times a day or week
  • Pain that affects only one side of the face
  • Pain in your cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, and lips. The eyes and forehead are affected less often.

Doctors consider sudden and intense pain to be signs of “classic” trigeminal neuralgia. If your pain is less intense but constant – more of an aching, burning sensation – you might have what’s known as “atypical” trigeminal neuralgia.

Treatments

The common treatments for facial pain vary, depending on the type of facial pain you’re experiencing.

  • Migraine pain: Migraine pain is usually treated by utilizing one or more migraine medications, typically a prophylactic and an abortive medication.
  • Dental pain: Dental pain is usually treated by removing or treating the offending agent, however, there are some injections that might be helpful as well. TMD pain can be treated by steroid injections directly into the joint, as well as TMD splints, chiropractic treatments, and medications, usually an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.
  • Neuropathic facial pain: Neuropathic facial pain can be treated with trigeminal nerve blocks, occipital nerve blocks, and sphenopalatine ganglion blocks. Some medications used for neuropathic facial pain include anti-inflammatories, anticonvulsants (gabapentin, carbamazepine), antidepressants (Cymbalta, Savella, amitriptyline), and occasionally opioids (hydrocodone), and opioid-like medications (tramadol). Neuropathic facial pain is also commonly treated by neuromodulation, such as a spinal cord stimulator or a peripheral nerve stimulator.

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