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Facial Pain

Facial pain is shooting, stabbing pains to the face and other areas of the head.

Facial pain is something most people will never experience. But the specialists at Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute treat patients with facial pain on a daily basis.


Facial pain is caused by irritation of nerves. You might have a blood vessel pressing on the nerve, damaging the myelin sheath, the protective coating around a nerve.

Certain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, also can injure the myelin sheath. Sometimes a tumor or a tangle of arteries presses on the nerve. Your nerves can also be injured by surgery, an accident, or a stroke.

Types of facial pain

Saint Luke's neurosurgeon Stephen Griffith, MD, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating all types of facial pain, including:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Supra-orbital neuralgia
  • Infra-orbital neuralgia
  • Occipital neuralgia
  • Glossopharyngeal neuralgia
  • Geniculate neuralgia

Saint Luke’s Facial Pain Program provides coordinated, world-class care to facial pain patients of all ages. After a thorough clinical exam, patients will undergo advanced imaging studies to provide detailed views of the soft tissue, nerves, and arteries of the face.


Surgical and non-surgical treatment plans are tailored to fit each patient's needs. Options include:

  • Microvascular decompression—insertion of a tiny sponge between a nerve and blood vessel to stop the vessel from pressing on the nerve
  • Internal neurolysis—separation of healthy and damaged threads within the nerve fiber
  • Radiofrequency gangliolysis—the use of an electrical current to heat and destroy the part of the trigeminal nerve that is causing pain

Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute

Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute is the region’s premier neuroscience institute dedicated to quality patient care, clinical excellence, research, and education.