Head and Face Pain Causes & Conditions
Head and facial pain causes and conditions can include a headache or an underlying infection or problem in the neck, teeth or jaw. Nerve disorders and certain chronic conditions can also cause pain in the head and face. The pain might be dull, throbbing or sharp, and discomfort might be accompanied by numbness, tingling or nausea. Common head and facial pain causes and conditions include migraine and tension headaches, myofascial pain syndrome, neuralgia and TMJ.
Migraine, Cluster, Tension and Other Headaches
Migraine headaches cause severe, debilitating pain that can start as a dull ache and progress to a throbbing or pulsing pain that can be located in any portion of the head. Migraine pain is often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Women are more prone to migraines than men.
Cluster headaches refer to a group of headaches that occur over a relatively short period of time, usually several weeks. These headaches can be quite severe and might occur anywhere from every other day to several times in one day. Men are more likely to suffer from cluster headaches than women.
Tension headaches result from contracted muscles in the neck and scalp. Poor posture is a risk factor for tension headaches, along with stress, depression and anxiety. The pain from a tension headache is commonly felt in the base of the skull and the back of the neck, along with the front, top or sides of the head. The neck muscles can also feel tight and tender to the touch.
Sinus infections, which are also called sinusitis, can trigger a sinus headache. These infections occur when the nasal and sinus passages become inflamed due to allergies or viruses. Sinus headaches are typically felt as pressure and discomfort in the forehead and cheeks.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) causes knotted muscles with a dull ache that can radiate to the teeth, jaw or ears, making it difficult to open the mouth widely or chew without pain. MPS has various causes, including grinding the teeth, clenching the jaw, trauma to the jaw or infection. This condition can even be caused by stress, anxiety or a nutritional deficiency.
Peripheral, Occipital and Trigeminal Neuralgia
Peripheral neuralgia, also referred to simply as neuralgia, is a painful condition that occurs when the peripheral nerves become damaged, often resulting in acute pain and other symptoms. Generally caused by an injury or disease, peripheral neuralgia can manifest as a burning, prickling or stabbing sensation. It can be felt anywhere in the body, but is most commonly felt in the neck or the face. Occipital and trigeminal neuralgia are two specific types of nerve damage affecting the head and face.
Occipital neuralgia occurs when the occipital nerves, which run from the top of the spinal cord upward to the scalp, become injured or inflamed, resulting in a constant aching throb. Occipital neuralgia pain might be felt on one or both sides of the top of the head, in the back of the head or at the base of the skull. The symptoms can be similar to those of a migraine or other headache, including light sensitivity and pain with movement of the head. This type of neuralgia can result from injury, inflammation or tight muscles that put pressure on the occipital nerves.
Trigeminal neuralgia affects the trigeminal nerves of the face, causing sharp facial pain that some describe as feeling similar to experiencing an electric shock. The two trigeminal nerves run down each side of the head, and each one splits into three branches that control sensations in different parts of the face. Thus, trigeminal neuralgia pain can be felt in any portion of the face, including the lips, jaw, eyelids, cheeks, nostrils or forehead. The pain might be brief, shooting or stabbing, and it may come and go. It might be triggered by common daily activities like shaving, brushing the teeth, washing the face or applying makeup.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), located on both sides of the head right in front of the ears, connects the lower jaw to the skull. It allows you to eat and speak by opening and closing the jaw. The abbreviation “TMJ” refers both to the joint itself and to a group of disorders that can affect this portion of the jaw. More common among women than men, TMJ has many possible causes ranging from teeth grinding to arthritis or congenital structural problems within the jaw. This can make it difficult to diagnose. TMJ causes stiffness and pain in the face, jaw and neck, along with clicking and locking of the jaw.
Balcones Pain Consultants treat all types of pain located in the face or head with compassionate, individualized treatment plans to get you on the road to being pain-free.
Videos About Head and Face Pain Causes and Conditions
- Migraine Headaches
- Myofascial Pain Syndrome
- Peripheral Neuralgia
- Tension Headaches
- Trigeminal Neuralgia