Face pain


Face pain may be dull and throbbing or an intense, stabbing discomfort in one or both sides of the face or forehead.


Pain that starts in the face may be caused by a nerve disorder, an injury, or an infection in a structure of the face. Face pain may also begin elsewhere in the body.

Sometimes face pain occurs for no known reason.


Home Care

Follow the treatment prescribed for the cause of the pain.

Painkillers may provide temporary relief. If the pain is severe or persistent, call your primary health care provider or dentist.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

In emergency situations (such as a possible heart attack), you will first be stabilized. Then, the health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. For tooth problems, expect a referral to a dentist or orthodontist.

You may be asked the following questions:

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:

Neurological tests will be performed if nerve damage is suspected.


Digre KB. Headaches and other head pain. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 405.

Silberstein SD, Young WB. Headache and facial pain. In: Goetz CG, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 53.

Review Date: 8/12/2011
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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