Facial Pain is pain experienced in the face region of the body, usually a headache or an injury, but it may be an indication of a medical condition that affects other parts of the body.
Ruhi Pareikh, a 26-year-old administrator, made a compromised choice to live with her headaches, thinking there was no cure and made them a part of her life. She avoided eating out or going to pubs, to save herself from the headaches. She even quit her job.
On visiting an Orofacial Pain Consultant, it was discovered that her pain was coming from the muscles of the head and neck region. Treatment was started and she found relief within a few weeks.
“Self-diagnosis and attributing almost everything to stress are road blocks to cure” says Dr. Ruchika Sood.
The most common causes of facial pain are:
A throbbing pain around the mouth is generally due to teeth.
A dull pressure across the forehead or eyes is generally due to a sinus infection.
A pain that cannot be easily explained or treated needs more investigation. Your doctor may ask for an x-ray or MRI to help locate the cause of the pain.
There are different types of facial pains:
1. Muscle pain or Myofascial Pain (Musculoskeletal)
a) Pain at the base of the skull extending to neck or face can be caused by poor sleeping postures and by the over-exercising upper body at the gym. These are often confused with nerve pain. The pain may come many times a day. Each attack is short lasting and pricking in quality.
b) When one side of the jaw has limited sidewards movement, pain can arise with a sudden spasm in the muscles around the jaw joint. This can happen due to uneven distribution of the load on the joint or sudden impact injury to the muscle. The pain is usually sharp due to spasm.
c) Many times a spasm in neck muscles can manifest as a headache. The painful muscle has tender points and trigger points. Tender points are the areas of the muscle that are painful when the doctor is performing the examination. Trigger points are the areas that refer pain to other places. There are different muscles in the head and neck region that refer pain to the head area and can be felt as headaches.
d) The important joint in the head and neck region called the TMJ Joint, just in front of both ears and serves as a connection between the lower jaw and the skull. This joint helps you eat, yawn, talk. There are many different types of pain disorders, which are felt as the ache in temples, ear pain, facial soreness, limited range of motion of mouth, clicking and joint noise. These can be caused by different reasons, some of them being grinding the teeth especially in sleep, cradling the phone between neck and shoulder, biting nails or clenching teeth etc.
2.Nerve Pain (Neuropathic)
Nerve pains are felt like sharp, shooting electric pain or as burning pain in the region of cheeks, nose, throat or jaw. These are short lasting but may leave behind the residual pain. The important nerve of the facial region is called as Trigeminal Nerve and most common painful nerve condition in the region is Trigeminal Neuralgia. This occurs because of a blood vessel pressing on the nerve inside the skull or because of other diseases like Multiple Sclerosis. There are other types of nerve pains too.
3. Pain because of blood vessels (Neurovascular)
Headaches affect all levels of society, affect people from almost every culture, and have been a part of the human condition since ancient times.
Headaches are a non-specific symptom in the same manner as a fever is a non-specific symptom of an infection. Every person experiences it at some time during a lifetime. It becomes a disorder when headaches are recurrent and interferes with normal functioning of life.
Medically, headaches are two types:
- Primary headaches like a migraine, tension, cluster headache.
- Secondary headaches, happening because of an underlying condition.
It is important to share the detailed history with your doctor. This will greatly help in the diagnosis of the headache disorder.
There is a lot of overlap in headache conditions like a migraine, tension-type headache, and Temporo-mandibular Disorders. The most common headache type is Migraine.
Dr. Ruchika Sood
Orofacial Pain and TMJ Consultant,