Facial pain may arise from several causes and is difficult to treat. It is usually felt as electric-like pain along the path of nerves in the face. If medication is not adequately relieving your facial pain, you may respond to injections or radiofrequency ablation.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a type of nerve pain that can occur in one or all three of the branches of the trigeminal nerve. This nerve may be blocked by an x-ray guided injection to the side of your face near your jaw, or at the ganglion where the three branches of the Trigeminal nerve join together. Radiofrequency ablation may also be used if blocks provide good relief that does not last long enough.
The Facial nerve also supplies pain input from many areas of the face. The sphenopalatine ganglion is part of the Facial Nerve and can be blocked with local anesthetic.
There are two approaches to this ganglion, one that involves an x-ray guided injection, and one that involves cotton-tipped applicators with local anesthetic that are placed into the nose. Your physician will discuss these methods with you if they suspect the Facial Nerve is causing some or all of your pain.
Blocks for facial pain are performed with a high degree of precision, but some approaches are still quick and take no more than 20 minutes. Others can take up to 30 minutes, particularly if radiofrequency is being used.
There may be pain at the injection site, but use of local anesthetic should improve your pain within 30 minutes of injection.
Relief is highly variable but can last up to several months following a block, and up to 12 months following radiofrequency.