Interested in booking an appointment? Verify your insurance here!

Understanding Neck Pain, Facial Pain, and Chronic Migraines

Understanding Neck Pain, Facial Pain, and Chronic Migraines

From strained muscles, tension, and stress to severe injury, degenerative diseases, and chronic conditions, your face, neck, and head are susceptible to several painful problems involving your bones, muscles, vertebrae, and tendons. However, the countless nerves that run through these complex areas are the most vulnerable and can trigger pain throughout your upper body if they become inflamed, irritated, compressed, or damaged.

Detecting the root cause of your head, face, and neck pain is Dr. Jay M. Shah’s specialty. Double-board certified and Ivy League trained, our founder and director of SamWell Institute for Pain Management, Dr. Shah has become one of the nation’s leading interventional pain management experts, helping patients throughout Colonia and Livingston, New Jersey, and beyond understand the source of their pain and get effective treatment.

Here, he discusses four types of head, neck, and face pain to shed light on some of the ill-understood conditions that affect these areas.

Trigeminal neuralgia

Think of your trigeminal nerve as a tree with many branches. It starts in your brain and has four nuclei: three control your senses, and one controls your motor skills. As the sensory nerves exit your brain, they converge near your temples in a bundle called the trigeminal ganglion, then branch out along your face and scalp.

Anything that affects these nerves can cause trigeminal neuralgia, leading to painful sensations in your face. Some describe it as searing, spontaneous attacks triggered by benign events, such as chewing, speaking, or gently touching the face. Trigeminal neuralgia typically affects only one side of the face and can feel like electrical shocks that come in clusters.

Often, trigeminal neuralgia stems from compression by a nearby blood vessel or artery, but multiple sclerosis or other problems that cause nerve damage, such as tumors or cysts, may also be responsible. 

Occipital neuralgia

Your occipital nerves originate between two vertebrae in your upper neck and branch out across the back and top of your head. Anything that irritates these nerves can cause shooting, zapping, or throbbing pain in your scalp, making it difficult to lay your head on a pillow or brush your hair. 

Neck arthritis and tight muscles can affect your occipital nerves, as can injuries, diseases, and prior surgeries

Cervical facet joint syndrome

Your spine can twist and bend thanks to the facet joints between each vertebra. Like other joints in your body, your neck’s facet joints are vulnerable to wear-and-tear, resulting in friction and nerve pain called cervical facet joint syndrome.

Cervical facet joint syndrome accounts for up to 70% of neck pain complaints and typically stems from problems that affect your vertebrae and discs between them. That’s why cervical facet joint syndrome often goes hand-in-hand with spinal conditions, such as spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, and degenerative disc disease.

The most common cause of cervical facet joint syndrome, however, is whiplash, a condition that occurs after a violent back-and-forth whipping action that snaps your neck with great force. Cervical facet joint syndrome causes neck and shoulder pain and restricts your range of motion.

Chronic migraine 

About 39 million people in the United States experience the pain and disability of migraine disease, making it one of the most common medical conditions — but that doesn’t mean it’s well understood. We know that migraine disease may stem from stress, environmental factors, genetics, and underlying medical conditions, and various factors can trigger a migraine attack, including smells, sounds, lights, weather, and stress, to name just a few.

Migraine attacks often involve the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves in your brain and set off a series of symptoms that may include light sensitivity, dizziness, nausea, memory problems, giddiness, and inability to concentrate. 

There are several types of migraine attacks, and some originate in your spine. Occipital neuralgia and migraine disease often coexist.

Cervical disc herniations

When an intervertebral disc herniates, the outer shell cracks, and the inner gel oozes out. The disc itself may not be painful, but the leaking gel can pinch, inflame, or irritate a nearby nerve or nerve root in the spine, causing localized and radicular pain.

When this happens in the cervical (neck) spine, the pain may remain in the neck; it may travel up into the head, leading to headaches and migraine attacks; and/or it may travel into the upper back and arm along the nerve’s path. Weakness, numbness, and tingling are also common symptoms.

Treatments for neck, face, and head pain

Dr. Shah offers several treatments to quell trigeminal neuralgia, occipital neuralgia, cervical facet joint syndrome, and migraine disease, including:

You can’t find a better-qualified specialist than Dr. Shah to diagnose the source of your pain and relieve it using the most advanced technology and techniques. Call us or book a consultation online to discuss your unique pain condition with Dr. Shah. Relief is possible.

You Might Also Enjoy...