Sir Oliver Wendel Holmes has been quoted expressing the view that if he wished to demonstrate the difficulties of diagnosis for his medical students, he would give them a patient with a facial pain. Pain in this anatomical region remains one of the more complex and difficult problems for both the patient and clinician. Within a relatively small area, there are multiple structures and organs that can give rise to painful conditions, each potentially referring pain, to the other. Thus teeth, jaws, oral soft tissues, sinuses, nose, temporomandibular (jaw) joints, ears, throat and even the head can be a source of pain that patients experience in one or more of the other areas. As well, there are a number of systemic diseases and neurologic syndromes that can present with facial pain.
When patients have experienced the pain for a long time, it may alter their habits and posture, or make them anxious or depressed, further complicating their diagnosis and pain management.
The Wasser team includes medical and dental specialists with expertise in the diagnosis and management of orofacial pain.
Conditions commonly seen include:
- Dental and periodontal pain - pain related to teeth or gums
- Oral soft tissue diseases - diseases of the mouth
- Jaw diseases and disorders
- Temporomandibular disorders - jaw joint problems
- Orofacial neuralgias (i.e. trigeminal neuralgia, glossopharyngeal neuralgia, atypical facial pain, neuropathic pain) - disorders of the nervous system
- Facial myalgia related to fibromyalgia - muscle pain or disorders
- Cervicogenic pain - Neck pain
- Facial pain related to migraine
- Facial pain secondary to central nervous system lesions or disease
Health-care professionals at the Wasser Pain Management Centre are also experts in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with headache pain.
- Tension Type Headache
- Cluster Headache
- Post traumatic Headache
- Headache arising from the cervical spine
- Medication induced headache
- Headache related to serious medical conditions
A variety of treatment or management modalities are available for patients suffering from headaches or orofacial pain. These include: oral/dental treatment, medication, physical therapy, psychosocial management and acupuncture. As well, there are several studies and clinical trials ongoing in these areas.