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Facial Pain



Your face is a central sensory organ located on the front surface of the head. The face contains your eyes, eyebrows, forehead, nose, cheeks, mouth, teeth and chin. To facilitate expression and movement, the face comprises a large network of nerves that supply energy to these muscles and actions, as well as bones that hold its structure in place. Your senses, such as hearing, smell, taste and vision, are also channeled through the face. Facial pain may include injuries to the nerves or bones that coordinate many of your faceís actions. These injuries may include trauma to the face and upper maxillary bone (jaw bone) caused by a car accident, physical violence, or sports injury. Such injuries may cause a loss of sensation in the face, difficulties with breathing, swelling, blurred or double vision, facial deformities, and difficulties eating and drinking.

Sometimes facial pain is not trauma induced, but caused by a malfunctioning of the nerves that govern the faceís movement. 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). Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition manifesting with extreme facial pain that can feel like burning or an electric shock. The pain is severe enough that daily activities, such as chewing, eating, or teeth brushing, can be agonizing.

Other neurologic causes of facial pain include Bellís palsy and Parkinsonís disease. Bellís palsy produces numbness and paralysis on one side of the face. Facial symptoms from Parkinsonís disease, a progressive neurologic condition, include facial tremors or twitches and a paralysis of the facial muscles that causes a rigid, mask-like appearance.

What other symptoms might occur with facial pain?

Facial pain may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Related symptoms that may occur along with facial pain

Facial pain may accompany other symptoms in the head and neck region including:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Numbness
  • Painful teeth

Other symptoms that may occur along with facial pain

Facial pain may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

  • Chest pain and congestion
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sore throat

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, facial pain may be a symptom of a life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Double vision
  • Stiff neck
  • Swelling

You may be asked the following questions:

  • What part of your face is in pain?
  • Is the pain on both sides?
  • If the pain is only on one side, which side is it on?
  • Is the pain over a sinus (forehead, cheekbones)?
  • Did the pain begin suddenly?
  • Is face pain occurring repeatedly (is it recurrent)?
  • How long have the episodes of face pain lasted (for how many months)?
  • How long does each episode of pain last (how many seconds)?
  • Is the pain worse when speaking, chewing, or swallowing?
  • Does the pain develop when touching a specific part of the face (trigger point)?
  • Did face pain occur before the start of a brain or nervous system problem (weakness, speech loss)?
  • What other symptoms do you have?



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