Treatments for Head/Face Pain
Treatments for head and face pain depend on the specific underlying cause or condition and can range from conservative, less invasive options to more aggressive therapies. The compassionate experts at Balcones Pain Consultants take an individualized approach to each patient’s head or facial pain condition and symptoms to determine the appropriate treatment. Head and face pain treatment options might include oral or topical medications, acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, Botox, nerve blocks or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.
Treating Head and Face Pain Due to Headaches
Treatment for head pain from migraine, cluster, sinus or tension headaches depends in part on the frequency and severity of the condition. Many headaches can be treated with various pain medications, including NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), opioids and triptans, which block the brain’s pain pathways by forcing blood vessels to constrict. Headache pain can also be treated with allergy medications if the underlying cause of the headaches involves an allergic reaction. Chiropractic adjustments can also reduce or eliminate head pain due to chronic headaches caused by irregularities in the cervical spine.
Migraine-related head pain can also be treated with preventive drugs such as beta-blockers, antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. In some cases, small doses of ketamine can be delivered in a carefully-controlled setting using intravenous infusion to quickly and significantly reduce the severity of migraine auras and to alleviate migraine pain for up to several weeks. A ketamine nose spray can be prescribed to provide migraine relief for some patients. Botox is also proven to be helpful in treating chronic migraines in adults. Migraines and other types of recurrent or chronic headaches can also be successfully treated with alternative or nontraditional therapies including massage, nutritional supplements, acupuncture and biofeedback.
Acupuncture and Biofeedback to Treat Head and Face Pain
An ancient healing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is a noninvasive, yet sometimes effective method used to treat pain. It involves stimulating specific points on the body with extremely fine, sterile needles to promote the natural healing process. Acupuncture can be a beneficial component of treatment for head and facial pain conditions including chronic migraines and other types of headaches as well as nerve damage and TMJ.
Biofeedback is another noninvasive technique that involves the use of electrical sensors to provide feedback about bodily functions like temperature, heart rate, sweating and blood pressure. Patients can use this information to make subtle changes, such as relaxing certain muscles, to reduce pain and improve their overall health. Biofeedback can be an essential component of treating head or face pain related to tension headaches, TMJ, myofascial pain syndrome and other conditions.
Treating Head and Face Pain Due to Nerve Damage
Peripheral neuralgia (also referred to simply as neuralgia), occipital neuralgia and trigeminal neuralgia can be treated with nerve blocks or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. Some types of neuralgia respond to NSAIDs and other pain medications, but these interventions may be less effective in treating other neuralgic conditions. Muscle relaxants, antidepressants and anticonvulsants, which block the nerves from firing, can also be effective in head and face pain relief from neuralgia. For some patients, surgical procedures can provide pain relief from neuralgia, while others find nontraditional, complementary therapies like acupuncture, biofeedback, yoga, nutritional changes or meditation help alleviate discomfort.
Treating Head and Face Pain from Other Conditions
Head and facial pain due to myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) can be treated with biofeedback, which helps the patient learn to relax tension in the jaw and facial muscles. Treatment for head and facial pain due to MPS can also include dietary changes if the condition is related to a nutritional deficiency. Counseling, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can be an effective method of treatment if emotional conditions like chronic stress or anxiety are causing the pain.
Head and face pain caused by TMJ can be treated with NSAIDs and other pain medications as well as antidepressants and muscle relaxants. Alternative therapies like acupuncture and biofeedback can also be quite effective in treating pain associated with TMJ. Physical therapy and counseling can also be an important part of treatment, as can steroid injections into the jaw joint or, for some TMJ patients, surgery.