Face pain may be sharp, dull, aching, or throbbing, patients may also feel some tingling or pressure in the face. Most often, it is the result of infection from a cold, flu, or sinuses.
In some cases, face pain is caused by a neurological condition involving the trigeminal nerve, which sends impulses of touch, pain, pressure, and temperature to the brain from the face, jaw, gums, forehead, and around the eyes. This condition is referred to as Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when a blood vessel presses down on the nerve near the brain stem. Over time, changes in the brain’s blood vessels can result in them rubbing against the trigeminal nerve root. This rubbing eventually wears away the insulating membrane of the nerve and results in irritation.
Trigeminal neuralgia causes a sudden, stabbing pain that can last several seconds. The pain is felt on the face, more specifically the lips, eyes, nose, scalp, and forehead. More often than not, the pain is felt on one side of the face, however some people experience pain on both sides. Trigeminal neuralgia is considered by many to be one of the most painful medical conditions.
Although face pain may be due to neurological or vascular causes, it may also be dental in origin. If this is the case, contact a dentist immediately.
If face pain is the result of infection, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) may reduce any swelling and relieve the pain. However, if the pain has been diagnosed as trigeminal neuralgia, it will most likely be treated with anti-seizure drugs such as Tegretol (carbamazepine) or Neurontin (gabapentin). In some cases, antidepressant drugs also have significant pain relieving effects.
Some patients find that alternative treatment such as acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, self-hypnosis, or meditation is effective in treating face pain. Though if medication and alternative methods aren’t effective, neurosurgical procedures are available to relieve pressure on the nerve or to reduce nerve sensitivity.