Few things can be more excruciating than chronic head and facial pain. Simple daily tasks become unbearable chores. It can be impossible to focus on even the simplest mental task, and sleep becomes something dreaded rather than something restful. A thorough consultation can provide accurate diagnosis as to the cause, and a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to pain management can get you on your way to managing the pain and returning to a normal life.
Common Causes of Head and Facial Pain
There are many types of chronic headaches, ranging from tension, cluster, migraine, and chronic daily headaches. Causes of chronic headaches can be simple or very complex.
The most common headache is the tension headache. It is directly associated with stress and often occurs as the result of neck and shoulder pain. It often feels like a vice around the head, with tightness and pinching in the neck and shoulder area.
Cluster headaches can manifest in many ways but are often defined as headaches that occur together in clusters over a given period. They are often followed by pain-free periods, which range in duration from a couple of days to much longer periods.
Triggers are associated with many headaches, but especially so with migraines. Triggers can include dietary changes, odors, and disruptions in sleep cycles. Migraine headaches often affect only one side of the head, but if severe, can disrupt vision as well.
This debilitating condition requires early diagnosis to be treated most effectively. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sensations in the face and with functions such as chewing. Trigeminal neuralgia results in electric shock-like pain from even the slightest touch to the face, though can also occur with no stimulation whatsoever. The pain can be so intense as to cause a mind-numbing effect. For this reason, early diagnosis is the best weapon in pain management.
There are many reasons for eye pain: foreign objects in the eye, a simple infection, or inflammation. The first step in managing eye pain is to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist to discern whether the pain is a medical or surgical issue that may qualify for correction. However, if the pain does not have a medical or surgical solution, pain management becomes key.
Ear, Nose, and Throat Pain
Painful conditions in the ears, nose, or throat are complex conditions and are challenging to treat effectively. Patients with this type of disorder should consult an otolaryngologist to determine if their particular pain can be addressed medically or surgically. When these options have been exhausted or are unlikely to produce positive results, consultation with a pain physician can be beneficial. Because the disorder often has no identifiable medical cause, learning to manage the pain is often the best course of action.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder
Like many painful and chronic conditions, TMJ disorder has numerous causes. The temporomandibular joint attaches the jaw to the skull. Trauma to this joint, such as injury, unconscious repetitive jaw movements, gum chewing, nail biting, or disease can all cause acute or chronic inflammation of the joint. The result is a pain, sometimes dull, often sharp, when the joint is in use. Evaluation by a pain physician with a multidisciplinary approach can be the first step in controlling this particular pain.