What is facial pain?
Facial pain is an intense painful attack that occurs in certain parts of the face. Other names for this condition are trigeminal neuralgia and tic douloureux.
It is a disorder of a nerve with three branches that runs through the face. This nerve is therefore also called the three-legged nerve or trigeminal nerve.
Facial pain mainly occurs in middle-aged or older people, but can also occur in young adults. Women suffer more often than men.
Symptoms of facial pain
Facial pain is clearly recognizable. There are short (a few seconds to two minutes) violent pains in certain parts of the face.
People usually feel the pain in one half of the face, so either only the right or only the left. The precise location of the pain depends on which branch of the nerve is affected.
The upper branch of the nerve mainly causes pain in the forehead and around the eye. The middle branch gives pain in the area around the nose and cheek. The lower branch causes pain in the tongue, lower jaw or chin. Between the shoots, there are no complaints.
For many people the pain shoots can be triggered by certain movements (for example talking or chewing), cold or by touching specific places in the face. These specific places are called trigger points.
Well-known trigger points are the nose wing and the side of the tongue.
How does facial pain arise?
Probably facial pain arises because the three-legged nerve is over-stimulated by an artery that runs past it. This artery constantly presses and knocks against the nerve. This makes the nerve very sensitive and reacts violently to small stimuli, such as movement or touch.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Other causes of the pain must be ruled out before being diagnosed with facial pain. This is done in particular by using different imaging techniques, such as a CT or an MRI scan.
Facial pain does not disappear spontaneously. There may always be periods when you are bothered by it. Different treatments are possible. Usually medication is used that suppresses the pain. For many people this is sufficient. Sometimes the medication needs to be incrementally increased over time.
If the medication has no or too little effect, surgery is initiated. There are various variants in this.
An attempt will usually be made to apply a layer between the nerve and the artery so that the nerve is no longer stimulated.
The nerve can also be switched off by damaging it or cutting it.
When to the doctor?
If you suspect that you have facial pain, it is wise to make an appointment at your general practice. The doctor can check if the diagnosis is probable or if there is another possible cause of the headache. He may refer you to the hospital for additional examination.
What can you do about it yourself?
You cannot treat the facial pain yourself. The only thing you can do is try to prevent the triggering of attacks.
You can do this by sparing the trigger points or by preventing the provocative movements as much as possible. This is of course bound by limits, since you cannot stop talking or chewing forever.
Source : dokterdokter