Health Watch — Pain in the Head: Facial Pain

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


Pain in the head and face can be particularly miserable. This week on Health Watch we’ll talk about aches and pains that strike above the neck. Pain in the face is often blamed on tooth problems, but it could be a nerve condition called trigeminal neuralgia.

Dr. Jonathan White, a neurological surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this kind of pain is often called “suicide disease” because it’s so excruciating. It affects the nerves running down the sides of the face and causes sharp, electric pain that comes and goes. The pain can be triggered by things such as brushing teeth, putting on makeup or even being hit by a gust of wind. If the pain is caused by the teeth, it tends to be constant instead of intermittent. The disorder may be difficult to diagnose. Treatment options include medication, traditional surgery and surgery using focused radiation.  

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February 2007

Health Watch is heard Monday through Friday nationwide on ABC Satellite Radio. Call your local radio station and ask if they carry the program.

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