Persistent Idiopathic Facial Pain (PIFP) also known as atypical facial pain is a sensation of pain in the trigeminal nerve. Trigeminal nerve is a nerve that is responsible for sensation in the face such as biting and chewing. The pain usually stays longer usually for more than a day, without showing any significant symptoms. A typical facial pain is not recognizable and patients usually do not understand the reason behind the chronic pain felt. Due to the site of pain, patients usually seek treatment from dental practitioners and specialists but the pain remains uncured. Chronic facial pain is similar to unexplained medical symptoms that affect other body parts. PIFP mainly affects adults; however it is rare in children. But in comparison to males, females are more affected and seek medical care.
Atypical facial pain is diagnosed if at least one of the below symptoms are seen:
- The face pain must have lasted for more than three months
- The pain has no identifiable cause
- The pain doesn’t respond to usual pain relief medications
Chronic pain can affect people in several ways. People might have to struggle being at work or do their usual activities due to pain. Due to pain, they might find difficulty in eating, drinking or making facial movements. This can lead to reduced fitness, weak muscles, stiff joints, and might make daily chores difficult to carry out.
Treatment of PIFP is typically less effective as compared to other facial syndromes. There are no surgical treatments available for this syndrome. So medications and pain management are the only two treatment options. Medications such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen are some of the over the counter drugs that can be used to manage pain. Some patients might also be prescribed antidepressants medication based on severity. Antidepressants have proven to reduce pain by decreasing the number of pain signals that reach the brain. One effective antidepressant is Nortriptyline. Antidepressants might be taken for several months before it becomes fully effective and sometimes even for a year to attain long lasting benefits. Patients taking Nortriptyline seldom experience any side effects except for mild drowsiness, dry mouth or constipation.
Pain management is a self-management type of treatment which helps patients to do their normal chores with ease. Pain management is an option when patient doesn’t attain complete relief through medication. Clinical psychologists and physiotherapists help people by developing pain management skills. Pain management cannot help patients to get rid of pain. However, it can help people in other ways, such as:
- Help carry on their daily activities with ease
- Return to activities which were stopped because of the pain
- Feel more confident about managing pain
- Improve mood and increase positivity among patients
All of these treatment methods help patients to either manage their pain or completely get rid of it. With the help of doctors and physiotherapists, patients can opt for relief methods and ensure a painless life.