Facial Pain Q & A
What causes facial pain?
There are many reasons why you might have pain in your face, like having a toothache, a sinus infection, or a bruise. There is also a condition called trigeminal neuralgia that causes recurring facial pain.
Neuralgia means nerve pain, and the trigeminal nerve is the largest in your head. It branches out from the back of your skull across your face, sending back signals to your brain from three main branches:
Trigeminal neuralgia generally affects only the maxillary and mandibular branches of the nerve, and most commonly, the maxillary. The pain is usually set off by a light touch to a specific part of your face.
The condition isn’t dangerous, but it can lead to malnutrition if you feel unable to eat because of the facial pain.
What are the symptoms of facial pain?
Facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia typically comes and goes, with bursts of pain that last just seconds, or might endure for several minutes. The pain is sharp and stabbing, or like having an electric shock.
Pain is nearly always on one side of your face, not both. You might also have a muscle spasm in your face, which is called tic douloureux.
The facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia can also cause other problems and health issues, including:
Lack of sleep
The cause of trigeminal neuralgia isn’t clear. Patients who have facial pain don’t usually have any disease affecting their nervous system that could cause trigeminal neuralgia.
There are several theories about why you might get trigeminal neuralgia, but all that’s known for sure is that something triggers the trigeminal nerve into an excessive burst activity that you feel as facial pain.
How is facial pain treated?
If your facial pain is due to trigeminal neuralgia, the Oklahoma Pain Physicians team has several therapies that can ease your symptoms.
Antiseizure medications can help calm the nerves and reduce the likelihood of an attack of facial pain. You might also benefit from Botox® injections that temporarily disrupt the chemical messages sent from your nerves to your muscles.
Other therapies could also help with facial pain, for example:
Nerve decompression techniques
Occipital and facial stimulation
When administering an injection, your provider at Oklahoma Pain Physicians uses real-time X-ray technology called fluoroscopy to target the root of the nerve for optimal effect.
If your facial pain is persistent and not improving using other treatments, the Oklahoma Pain Physicians team can fit you with a trial spinal cord stimulator to see if that helps.
Spinal cord stimulation works by sending electrical impulses to the nerves in your spinal cord. If the trial is a success, you can have a permanent spinal cord stimulator implant.
If facial pain is affecting your quality of life, call Oklahoma Pain Physicians today or request an appointment online.