The face is composed of our eyes, forehead, nose, cheeks, mouth, teeth and chin. It relies on a network of nerves that connect to the numerous muscles that control the function of these features. Bones hold the face’s structure in place and blood vessels and glands regulate its functions.
Facial pain refers to any pain that effects the nerves or bones that work to coordinate the face’s actions. Trauma is a common cause which can result in a loss of sensation in the face. Facial pain is also often caused by malfunction of the nerves that govern the face’s movement. For example, the trigeminal nerve relays messages between your brain and sensory organs, providing information about face and scalp sensation (ophthalmic), the mouth and nose (maxillary), and chewing (mandibular). Damage or disruption to this nerve can lead to a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia.
Facial Pain Causes
There are a number of potential causes of face pain, including musculoskeletal pain and nerve or neuropathic pain. Other common causes include trigeminal neuralgia, temporomandibular joint disorder and other atypical facial pain.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a sudden, severe facial pain, described as sharp and shooting, or like an electric shock. It usually occurs in sudden short attacks lasting from a few seconds to about two minutes, which stop just as abruptly.
Temporomandibular joint disorder is an alteration of the structures that compose the temporomandibular joints that that connect the lower jaw to the skull. The disorder occurs when these joints, or muscles and ligaments that support them, are injured, causing dysfunction and pain. It is widely regarded as the second most common cause of facial pain, after toothache. Botulinum Toxin A (Botox) injections and intra-articular injections are both used to treat this disorder.
Atypical facial pain is a type of chronic facial pain which does not fulfill any other diagnosis. When facial pain is a continuing problem, but test results return negative and there is no other obvious explanation for the cause and there is a poor response to attempted treatment, it can be seen as atypical.