San Diego is known for its beautiful settings, beautiful weather and its beautiful people. In 2012, the city was named #2 most attractive city by Travel and Leisure magazine but it’s no secret to the thousands of vacationers that pick the city as their destination every year.
In spite of the number of beautiful faces that you can count on seeing at every turn, San Diego is host to its fair share of residents who suffer from facial pain. In many cases, the person who is affected doesn’t even know the cause or source of their pain.
Many people who develop facial pain seek pain treatment without ever knowing the cause of the pain. Facial pain refers to pain in any area of the face including the eyes and mouth.
Most of the time, the cause is harmless but it can also signal a serious medical condition. Pain can result from injuries, headaches, abscesses, ulcers and oral infections. Toothaches can also cause pain in the face.
More serious conditions that cause facial pain such as shingles, sinus infections, migraines or nerve disorders may also require pain management treatment to accompany the medical treatment required for the condition.
Types of Facial Pain
Like many other types of pain, facial pain may be experienced as an ache, cramps or stabbing. When the pain appears on one side of the face, it usually comes from a condition inside the mouth. For this type of pain, a dentist is usually sought for treatment.
Sinus pain usually occurs as a feeling of pressure around the eyes or across the top of the cheek bones. Throbbing or aching pain in a single spot typically indicate an abscess or ulcer in the spot while injuries or headaches occur as stabbing or aching pain.
When you seek pain management treatment from pain doctors, they will probably ask you to describe the type and location of your facial pain in order to diagnosis its cause accurately.
You should be prepared to answer the doctors’ questions about the source of your pain, how long it usually lasts and which area or areas of the face is hurting. They will also want to know if anything makes the pain worse or gives you relief.
Neurological Causes of Facial Pain
Trigeminal neuralgia is facial pain that originates from the trigeminal nerve. This is one of the largest nerves in the entire head and it is responsible for sending signals to the brain when the surface of the face, gums, forehead, jaw or area surrounding the eyes is touched or experiences pain, pressure or changes in temperature. The pain that comes from this condition is often intense and can be felt in part of the face or in all of it.
It does not take a severe impact or injury to cause an attack of this type of pain. Everyday activities like washing your face or shaving can bring about the stabbing pain or pain that feels like electric shocks. The condition tends to intensify in the degree of pain and the length of attacks over time.
Attacks may be absent for long periods of time or it may progress to the degree that the person is always in pain. These people must rely on pain management treatment methods at pain clinics to maintain some degree of control over their pain and their lives.
Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Pain management treatment is available for the many people who suffer with TN who never know its cause. When a cause is identified, it is one of the following:
- Pressure on the trigeminal nerve from a swollen blood vessel
- Damage to the myelin sheath around the nerve as a result of multiple sclerosis
- Damage that occurs as part of the natural aging process
Pain doctors use a variety of diagnostics to determine if your pain comes from TN. There is no single test that can be used in its diagnosis but some tests may be used to rule out other conditions that cause similar symptoms. The specific pain management treatment used will be determined by the location of the pain and the specific triggers that bring on an attack.
Pain Management Treatment for Facial Pain
Types and location of facial pain are all different and may require a unique approach to pain management treatment. Pain medications may be used but they are not always effective for every patient.
To treat trigeminal neuralgia and other neurological causes of face pain, muscle relaxants, anti-seizure medications and antidepressants may be used. Local nerve blocks are another option that can interrupt the signal sent by the nerve that causes the brain to respond to pain.
Sometimes nerve tests are performed to identify the cause of facial pain. Pain doctors use a trial nerve block to lasts only a few hours but can tell pain doctors the location where pain management treatment is needed.
Once this has been accomplished, they may use a traditional nerve block to prevent pain for weeks or months. In cases where trigeminal neuralgia exists, radiofrequency ablation provides more than six months of relief at one time.
Although an accurate diagnosis for facial pain can take a long time, it is necessary to detect the exact cause in order to give patients the right pain management treatment for their condition. This increases the chances of successfully reducing and controlling pain that can be debilitating to the patient.
The best approach to pain management for facial pain is to seek pain management treatment at a pain clinic when you first experience it. The sooner the doctors diagnose the cause, the less likely you will be to have advanced pain.
If you are experiencing the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, you can expect it to grow in intensity over time, making it more difficult to control. Pain doctors have the expertise and the range of treatment options that will allow them to provide you with the best care for your condition. Waiting until you have to go to the emergency room for intense pain could lead to poor treatment and a failure to adequately manage your pain.