What Causes Facial Pain?
Facial pain can result from a range of conditions, some readily identifiable, and others originating from no apparent disorder or damage. Typically, facial pain presents after dental or sinus surgery, or as a result of trauma to the skull or face. Other common causes include, but are not limited to:
Trigeminal Neuralgia – Also known as tic douloureux, this condition causes extreme and sporadic pain after the fashion of a series of electric shocks. The trigeminal nerve is one of twelve nerves at the base of the brain with three branches that can cause pain throughout the face and head. The sensations are so intense as to be physically debilitating.
Postherpetic Neuralgia – This condition is a complication of shingles, which causes deep burning pain that can last from 1-6 months. The discomfort can be so severe as to disrupt sleep and even appetite. Although not characterized by the rash and blisters common in shingles, the postherpetic neuralgia is equally painful.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – TMJ is a malfunction of the temporomandibular joint that controls the jaw. It causes pain and tenderness that grows worse when eating or speaking. The pain is described as dull or burning, and typically radiates toward the ear and the side of the head.
Cluster Headache – These headaches most often affect men in their twenties. They occur at night after 1 or 2 hours of sleep and are deep, and radiating with pain located in the forehead, temples, cheek, neck, or ear.
Migraine Headache – Migraines are the second most common form of headache after tension headaches and are characterized by a deep, pulsating pain and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
The International Headache Society has also identified Persistent Idiopathic Facial Pain as a pain that presents daily and persists for hours. It normally flares in a limited area on one side of the face and may radiate outward. There is no associated sensory loss and, in fact, no physical evidence of the source of the pain and no abnormal lab tests.
Each of these conditions requires a different corrective or management approach, although all will likely include some use of pain medications.
At Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles our neurologists specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of facial pain including trigeminal neuraglia, postheerpetic neuragia, TMJ and migraine headaches. Dr. Chang, Dr. O’Connor and Dr. Jordan diagnose and treat patients with facial pain disorders. If you suffer from facial pain and need a specialist contact one of them to schedule an appointment 310-829-5968.