FAQs of Facial Pain Treatment in Nashville & Murfreesboro TN

The eyes, forehead, nose, cheeks, mouth, chin, and teeth make up the face. The face relies on many muscles and nerves for expression, movement, and sensation. The face contains glands, blood vessels, and bones, which have special functions.

There are many types of facial pain, which can occur from problems with any of these facial structures. In a recent study, researchers reported the prevalence rate of chronic oral-facial pain at 7%. Associated factors for facial pain are facial trauma, teeth grinding, and missing teeth.

What are the causes of facial pain?

  • Injury – Facial pain can occur from injuries to the nerves, bones, and muscles of the face. Injury can occur from a sporting accident, motor vehicle crash, or physical violence. These injuries can cause loss of sensation to the face, problems with vision, and difficulties eating and drinking.
  • Nerve malfunctioning – The trigeminal nerve relays messages from the sensory organs to the brain, and it provides scalp sensation, controls chewing, and affects the nose and mouth. Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that results from trauma or inflammation to the trigeminal nerve, and it causes a burning or electric shock pain.
  • Infections – Chronic allergies and sinusitis can produce facial pain, which is the result of inflamed sinuses (air-filled passages of the face). When the sinuses clog with excess mucus that won’t drain, pain occurs.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome – With this long-term condition, the patient has pressure to sensitive points on the muscles (called trigger points). Pain occurs from muscle contractions and repetitive motions.
  • Jaw dysfunction – With temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, the jaw joint is inflamed or injured, and pain occurs with any movement.

What are the potential complications of facial pain?

Many causes of facial pain are serious diseases, so failure to seek medical treatment could result in major complications and permanent damage. It is important to follow the doctor’s treatment plan, as well.

How is facial pain treated?

The treatment of facial pain depends on the actual cause. Once the diagnosis is made, treatment options include:

  • Medications – There are a number of medicines used to treat facial and head pain. Common agents include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen and naproxen), muscle relaxants (Robaxin and Flexiril), abortive agents (Imitrex), and opioids (reserved for severe, intractable pain).
  • Sphenopalatine ganglion block (SGB) – The doctor will use a cotton-tipped applicator to apply numbing gel inside the nostril. Once anesthetized, a small catheter is inserted through the nose to the sphenopalantine ganglion nerves, which are at the back of the throat. Once in position, a long-acting anesthetic is injected onto the nerves. In a recent clinical study, the success rate of this block was reported at 67%.
  • Occipital nerve block (ONB) – For migraine and cluster headache, ONB is a common procedure. The doctor injects an anesthetic, with or without a corticosteroid agent, into the back region of the head near the occipital nerves. In a study of patients with facial pain, this block had a 75% success rate, and for occipital neuralgia, patients reported 100% pain relief.
  • Trigger point injection (TPI) – Trigger points are painful myofascial areas on the body, such as the neck and upper back. With the TPI procedure, a small needle is inserted into the trigger points, and a local anesthetic agent is injected. Recent studies show TPI efficacy rate of 90-98%, with almost two-thirds of patients reporting complete pain reduction.

Resources

Aggarwal, VRK (2006). Epidemiology of chronic oro-facial pain. Retrieved through EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.496345#sthash.MtLUbB7R.dpuf

 

Dhadwal, N, Hangan, MF, Dyo, FM, Zeman, R, & Li, J (2013). Tolerability and efficacy of long-term lidocaine trigger point injections in patients with chronic myofascial pain. International Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Felisati G, Arnone F, Lozza P, et al. (2006). Sphenopalatine endoscopic ganglion block: A revision of a traditional technique for cluster headache. Laryngoscope,116:1447–1450.

Jurgens, TP, Muller, P, Seedorf, H et al. (2012). Occipital nerve block is effective in craniofacial neuralgias but not in idiopathic persistent facial pain. Journal of Headache Pain, 13(3), 199-213. doi:  10.1007/s10194-012-0417-x

PubMed Health. Facial pain. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002057/.

PubMed Health. Sinusitis. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001670/.

PubMed Health. Trigeminal neuralgia. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001751/.