standard-title Identifying Neuropathic Pain

Identifying Neuropathic Pain

One of the most confusing and most difficult disorders to treat is neuropathic pain disorders. These are typically chronic and arise from the brain and nerves of the head, face and neck. You might suffer from neuropathic pain if you have experienced the following:

  • Reoccurring toothaches
  • Undiagnosed facial pain
  • Numerous treatments that result in only temporary or no pain relief
  • Seen numerous doctors for various treatments
  • Pain triggered by light touch or normal function
  • Have been told the pain is psychological


If this is the case, you might be suffering from a neuropathic pain disorder. Thankfully, your dentist may have experience in treating these complicated conditions, just as we can at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia.


Finding a Diagnosis

Orofacial neuropathies derive from a number of causes depending on the symptoms experienced, which causes the diagnostic process to be different. For the three most common types of neuropathic pain conditions, diagnostic procedures may include tests, examinations and considerations.

Trigeminal Neuralgia: Beyond evaluating symptoms, health history and performing a physical examination of the affected area, tests might be recommended to identify medical problems. As with many pain conditions where the exact cause is unknown, trigeminal neuralgia is often diagnosed by eliminating other serious medical problems. No single test can reliably identify all cases of trigeminal neuralgia, so diagnosis is dependent on an accurate interpretation of a patient’s signs and symptoms.

Atypical Odontalgia: Also known as phantom tooth pain, atypical odontalgia is characterized by chronic pain in a tooth or multiple teeth. The pain can also occur where teeth have been extracted or following endodontic treatment without an identifiable cause. This pain can spread over time, including wider areas of the face or jaw. But this pain is not like typical toothaches because it does not have an identifiable cause, which can make diagnosis difficult. Diagnosis is typically made after completing a thorough history, clinical examination and radiographic assessment fail to identify the cause of the pain. Treatment often involves a variety of medications to reduce the level of pain experienced. While treatment is successful in reducing the pain, it may not eliminate it completely. Learn More

Oral Nerve Injury: Nerve damage is typically diagnosed with one or more of the following tests. An electromyogram (EMG) records the muscle’s electrical activity, with reduced activity suggesting injury to the nerve. A nerve conduction study measures the passing of electrical signals by placing electrodes at two points on the body. And an MRI, or MRA may produce a 3D image of the nerve detailed enough to identify damage.

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: This complex neuropathic pain condition cannot be diagnosed with a single test, however a number of tests and scans can provide clues to a positive identification. An MRI scan can provide images of changes to tissues. Sympathetic nervous system tests may identify changes to skin temperature, blood flow, sweat or other disturbances to autonomic functions. Changes in bone and blood circulation can be seen with a triple-phase bone scan. An X-ray can identify loss of minerals in bones common in later stages of the condition.

To learn more about neuropathic pain, please contact Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia.

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