Facial pain beyond trigeminal neuralgia

Arne May, Jan Hoffmann
Current Opinion in Neurology 2021 March 3

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Trigeminal neuralgia is a well-known facial pain syndrome with several treatment options. In contrast, non-neuralgiform idiopathic facial pain syndromes are relatively rare, reflected by the fact that, until 2020, no internationally accepted diagnostic classification existed. Like trigeminal neuralgia, these non-dental facial pain syndromes need to be managed by neurologists and pain specialists, but the lack of pathophysiological understanding has resulted in an underrepresented and undertreated patient group.

RECENT FINDINGS: This work provides a brief overview of the most common primary facial pain syndromes, namely, the facial attack-like facial pain, which corresponds to attack-like headache, the persistent idiopathic facial pain (formerly 'atypical facial pain'), and trigeminal neuropathy. What these disorders have in common is that they should all be treated conservatively.

SUMMARY: On the basis of pragmatic classifications, permanent and attack-like primary facial pain can be relatively easily differentiated from one another. The introduction of the new International Classification of Orofacial Pain offers the opportunity to better coordinate and concentrate scientific efforts, so that in the future the therapy strategies that are still inadequate, can be optimized.

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