Facial pain has a long list of possible causes but the diagnosis can often be made by a good history and examination. The common causes are often benign and self-limiting but it is essential not to miss those conditions that require urgent treatment – eg, temporal arteritis, or early diagnosis – eg, malignancy. There is a tendency to overdiagnose bacterial sinusitis when the real cause may be a viral upper respiratory tract infection or, much less frequently, a more serious cause of facial pain.
- The pain comes from one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve-the major carrier of sensory information from the face to the brain.
- You most commonly feel pain in the maxillary nerve, which runs along your cheekbone, most of your nose, upper lip, and upper teeth. Next most commonly affected is the mandibular nerve, affecting your lower cheek, lower lip, and jaw.
- In almost all cases, pain will be restricted to one side of your face.
Radiofrequency Ganglion block
Radiofrequency treatment is used in patients suffering from chronic face and head pain .A radiofrequency Ganglion block is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat head and facial pain. While the procedure itself is short and performed in your doctor’s office, it requires a great deal of technical proficiency and very few physicians are trained on how to do it. A radiofrequency ganglion block is an established treatment method of a wide variety of pain syndromes:
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Sphenopalatine neuralgia
- Migraine headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Atypical facial pain
- Cancer pain of the head and neck
- Tongue and mouth pain
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
How should I prepare for the procedure?
- No special preparations such as sleepwear are needed because the treatment is done on an outpatient basis.
- You must not eat before your treatment and take your normal medication.
- N.B.: this does not include blood thinners, as mentioned above.
- Make sure you have someone to take you home, because you may not drive for 24 hours.
When can I expect pain relief after the treatment?
Afterpains can occur following a Sweet procedure. These may last for several weeks but will eventually disappear. The optimum results of treatment are seen after six to eight weeks. Around this time, a new appointment with your pain specialist will be made.
What are dangers and side effects of the procedure?
After the procedure, the following complications or side effects can occur:
- It is possible that small blood vessel can be hit by the needle resulting in haemorrhage of the cheek.
- In rare cases a bacteria of the mucous membrane can enter the brain fluid resulting in meningitis.
- If you develop a fever over 38.5 Co within 6 hours after the treatment together with headache and stiffness of the neck, you immediately have to contact the hospital or the pain clinic and your GP to be treated as soon as possible with antibiotics.
- In case of repeated Sweet procedure numbness of a part of the face can remain.