FAQ’s on Facial Pain
What is Facial Pain?
There are numerous conditions which can cause a patient to experience facial pain, which can occur in different fashions based on the root cause. Pain can be felt in either one or both sides of the forehead or face, or may be confined to the jaw in cases where damage to the jaw is the cause of pain. Pain can be felt as a dull ache; a spot that is tender to the touch, a throbbing sensation, or in some cases may feel like a severe burn.
Facial pain can become a very problematic chronic condition in cases where patients do not seek proper medical attention in a timely manner. One important note with acute facial pain is that if the pain is felt only as a throbbing sensation on one side of the face, the cause is likely a dental complication. In events where the cause of pain cannot be identified, patients are encouraged to contact our clinic to achieve a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
What are the causes of Facial Pain?
One of the largest causes of facial pain is inflammation due to the presence of one or more medical conditions. Swelling can put pressure on any number of sensitive areas in the facial region producing symptomatic pain. Common causes of pain can include infection – typically of the sinus cavities – compression of a facial nerve, headaches, or physical damage to a structure of the face such as the jaw, trigeminal neuralgia, and TMJ among other conditions.
Another common cause of facial pain is for it to appear as a secondary effect of a damaged tooth. With many dental complications, the tissue surrounding the tooth becomes inflamed and can compress surrounding facial nerves to produce symptomatic pain throughout the head, neck, and shoulder area.
What are the symptoms of Facial Pain?
The largest symptom of facial pain is pain felt in the face, which can occur in any location of the face and in any level of severity. There are specific symptoms tied to each cause, such as the entirety of the sinus aching for patients who have jaw damage and throbbing localized to the location of a damaged tooth in cases where a dental affliction is present.
How is Facial Pain diagnosed?
Diagnosis for facial pain is achieved from a combination of an examination of the patient, the patient’s medical history, and a summary of presented symptoms. For many conditions, these three factors are enough to produce a likely diagnosis for the patient. In cases where a diagnosis is not initially confirmed, patients may be examined more thoroughly with diagnostic imaging techniques.
An X-ray may be used to examine the structures of the face in cases where pain is likely caused by damage to the jaw or other areas of the face. X-rays can also reveal possible dental complications as sources of pain. An MRI will be used to examine the soft tissues of the face, which can reveal spots of swelling due to inflammation or infection.
Patients who are experiencing pain due to an affected nerve cluster may receive a diagnostic nerve block, which is the injection of a numbing agent into the likely source of pain. If symptomatic relief is achieved, the compressed nerve is likely the cause and may be able to be injected with a larger amount of numbing agent to provide a longer term of relief.
The options available to a patient will be based on the diagnosis of the determining cause of pain. Common methods of treatment for facial pain include pain relievers, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Patients with structural damage may require interventional surgery to correct their cause of pain or as a future preventative if the condition is likely to worsen with age.