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What Triggers Facial Pain? Taking a Look at Facial Pain Causes

Woman dealing with facial pain

If you've ever experienced facial pain, you know how unpleasant it can be. Your face is extremely sensitive, so any type of ache or soreness can really get in the way of your day. What actually causes pain in your face?

As it turns out, there are quite a few facial pain causes. Let's take a look at some of the most common culprits.

What Causes Facial Pain?

The causes of facial pain can stem from lots of different sources. Nerve problems, injuries, TMJ disorder, tooth infections, illnesses, migraines, and facial muscle issues are all tied to facial discomfort. The specific reason can help you and your doctor figure out how to find relief.

Nerve Condition

Issues with nerves that run through your face are one of the main routes to facial pain. Trigeminal neuralgia , where the trigeminal nerve becomes irritated, makes you feel sudden, shocking pain along the nerve's path. TMJ problems can pinch nerves too. Injuries, surgery, strokes - lots of things can damage facial nerves.


If you hurt your face, nerves, muscles, joints, etc. at some point, it can certainly come back to haunt you with pain later on. Any kind of dental work, car accident, sports impact, name it. Injuries often leave lingering effects.


Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders impact the hinge connecting your jaw to your skull as well as nearby muscles enabling you to move your jaw. Issues make it painful to open your mouth, chew food, and even rest your jaw. Grinding or clenching your teeth can worsen TMJ pain too.


Tooth decay and infections like abscesses put pressure on the nerves in your face and jaw. Anything infectious, in fact, like sinusitis or shingles, can spread to facial nerves. Arthritis also causes painful inflammation around joints and nerves.


When migraines strike, you get severe head pain paired with symptoms like light and sound sensitivity. As a migraine episode ramps up, pain can definitely spread into your face. Migraines even sometimes directly affect facial nerves.

Muscle Problems

If your facial muscles themselves develop issues from strain, overuse, or injuries, it also causes facial soreness. Jaw muscles can spasm. Muscles used for making expressions like squinting or frowning can weaken or tighten up.

What Muscles Cause Facial Pain?

The temporomandibular joint itself contains muscles that assist jaw movement. Spasms, overactivity, or damage involving the lateral pterygoid, masseter, and temporalis muscles can instigate pain.

Some common facial muscle pain symptoms include:

  • Stiffness in the jaw muscles
  • Jaw pain
  • Pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • Uncomfortable popping or clicking in your jaw
  • Aching facial pain
  • Difficulty chewing

Facial Nerve Pain Symptoms

Depending on the facial nerve pain causes, the pain can manifest as sore, aching, tight, sensitive, throbbing, stabbing, tingling, sharp, or burning sensations.

Pain may affect broad areas on one or both sides of the face or concentrate in specific spots like the jaw, temples, forehead, or cheeks. Other symptoms like tooth sensitivity, headaches, ear pain, neck stiffness, and eye irritation can accompany primary facial discomfort.

The most direct way to tackle facial pain is by treating whatever condition is behind it, but other approaches help along the way too. Medications alleviate pain signals.

Physical therapy stretches and relaxes muscles. Surgery releases compressed nerves. Even alternative stuff like acupuncture can provide relief.

Final Thoughts

Facial pain arises from diverse yet often overlapping facial pain causes like dental issues, injuries, TMJ, infections, migraines, and direct nerve dysfunction.

Consulting your doctor regarding persistent or worsening facial discomfort remains essential for identifying any required medical intervention.

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    Cary, North Carolina 27513
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