Facial nerve pain is medically known as trigeminal neuralgia. This is a chronic painful medical condition which develops due to irritation of the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is the most important sensory nerve of the face. It also possesses motor nerve fibers which innervate muscles of mastication. In the initial stage of trigeminal neuralgia people suffer from mild jolts of pain. After certain period of time, the pain intensifies and tends to become excruciating. The episodes of pain occur more frequently and this significantly interferes in patient's life and performance.
Characteristics of Facial Nerve Pain
As it has already been mentioned initially the pain is not so intensive. However, it becomes more severe and eventually leads to highly intensive or jabbing pain which may sometimes resemble an electric shock. The very pain can be induced by certain activities such as chewing, brushing teeth or even speaking. The pain usually affects the cheeks, jaw, gums and lips. There are even cases when the pain radiates towards the eyes and the forehead. The pain lasts approximately several minutes and is commonly limited to one side of the face. The major problem is related to the fact that trigeminal pain tends to intensify and becomes more frequent.
What are Causes of Facial Nerve Pain?
Certain functional or even structural changes of the trigeminal nerve are responsible for the occurrence of pain. The nerve is in a contact with certain blood vessels and if they are close enough they may irritate or compress the nerve and interfere in its normal functioning. The pain due to irritation or compression of the trigeminal nerve predominantly affects older people and may be only one of the characteristics of certain illnesses such as multiple sclerosis.
There are several triggers associated with the occurrence of pain and they include exposure to a blow of wind, chewing, shaving, touching the specific facial areas, brushing teeth etc.
Facial Nerve Pain Treatment
The initial treatment for facial nerve pain includes medications. The goal of medicamentous therapy is to reduce the pain. In case of trigeminal neuralgia patients are commonly prescribed anticonvulsants and antispasmodic medications. In case medicamentous treatment does not provide with desirable effect there are additional treatment modalities such as injections and/ or surgery. Temporary pain relief is successfully achieved by local injections of alcohol into the affected nerve. When it comes to surgery its primary goal is to obtain decompression of the affected nerve. There are certain side effects of decompression surgery and facial numbness is only one of them. In spite of potential side effects, the surgery is highly effective in alleviation of facial pain.