Atypical Facial Pain (ATFP) is a syndrome that encompasses a wide group of facial pain problems.

This condition is typically characterized by a burning, aching or cramping sensation, occurring on one side of the face, often in the region of the trigeminal nerve. It can even extend further into the upper neck or back of the scalp.

ATFP and Other Conditions

For the purpose of effective pain management, atypical facial pain must be distinguished properly from other conditions. A few conditions, which might have similar symptoms include:

• Trigeminal neuralgia
• Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ)
• Migraines
• Cluster headaches

Some studies also report that atypical facial pain is an early form of trigeminal neuralgia. Meanwhile some patients have components of both, trigeminal neuralgia as well as atypical facial pain. Though ATFP might be as severe as trigeminal neuralgia, yet the patterns and quality of the two conditions are quite different.


Causative Factors

ATFP is a comprehensive term, including a vast group of facial pain conditions and consequently having a series of possible causes. Quite often, an injury of any peripheral or proximal branch of trigeminal nerve due to facial trauma or basal skull fracture can cause the disorder.

Here we list some of the other causes of the condition of ATFP:

• Sinus or teeth infections
• Dental decay or infections
• Neuralgia including cavitational osteonecrosis
• Stylomandibular ligament sprains or Ernest Syndrome
• Temporal Tendonitis
• Myofascial trigger points
• Diseases and disorders of the cervical spine
• Tumors affecting the Vagus Nerve in the region of the lung or esophagus

Research also indicates that the vascular compression of the trigeminal ganglia in the same area that is believed to cause certain types of trigeminal neuralgia can also cause ATFP.