Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Announcements

Visit the WebMD Parkinson's Health Center for information about symptoms, types, diagnosis, treatment and care.
Severe jaw pain...can't eat
avatar
Keln30 posted:
I have an issue which seems to be getting worse. Every so often, I have this intense pain starting from the side of my face right next to the inside of my ear, and down to just below the joint in my jaw, always on the right side of my face only. You can feel a swollen nerve all the way from the ear to the jaw. When this happens, as long as I don't eat anything at all or drink anything that is tart, it's just a dull throbbing that I wouldn't even call painful...just mildly uncomfortable. If I eat something, drink something like lemonade, or even think about food in a way that triggers increased salivation, that swollen nerve responds with mind-numbing pain. It's almost instantaneous like the way a Charlie-horse reacts to flexing a muscle the wrong way. So when this nerve gets swollen like this (I am assuming it's a nerve, I don't know this for sure), I pretty much cannot eat until it calms itself down. Generally this has occurred perhaps once a month or even more rarely. Recently, it has become more common, more like 1-2 times a week. I am hoping this is a reaction to stress, which I have had alot of recently, and not some kind of worsening of the problem. Some other things I have noticed. If I push on the swollen "nerve", it will cause the intense pain, but the pain goes away just as soon as I let off pressure. I also have had very limited success using Ibuprofen or Aspirin. Alcohol seems to work the best, but I don't always have that handy, and it takes more than just one drink to do the trick. Also alcohol has undesirable side-effects, and this problem can occur just after waking up in the morning, or at midday, or in the evening, so it isn't always convenient to medicate it with alcohol. Ice or heat doesn't seem to do any good, and it is difficult to apply either without putting pressure on the swollen nerve, which causes pain too intense to bear for long. I've looked around on the internet and found explanations for Trigeminal Neuralgia, or TN, but the problem I have sounds a bit different. The pain is only in the part of my face and not the nose or the mouth itself. Also it seems to be connected to salivation somehow. It may be TN, and I am not going to diagnose myself, but I was wondering if anyone else has a problem similar to this and if they have figured out what you can do to avoid these "flare ups" and how to get the swelling to go down before you starve.
Reply
 
avatar
Lifes responded:
Are you sure it isn't that the parotid gland is swollen? It's in front of--below the ear. A *hallmark* sign of an infected parotid gland is intense pain with sour or tart drinks or food. Get a really sour food, put it in your mouth, and see how fast the pain hits--- if immediate, I'd bet it's the parotid. If severe, it can swell and harden under the skin, like a small lump or area of semi-hardness. It can be so severe a person looks like they have mumps or the chimpmunk look. It can be unilateral (one side) or bilateral (both sides). If the problem is tooth-dental related, sweets (rather than sour) will often cause pain. You need to start with your doctor. They can do a CAT Scan to see if it's parotid. If so, they will likely give you an antibiotic. The swelling can remain a LONG time. Also, are you allergic?? I've had a swollen parotid ever since my allergies (to dust/mold) got bad. Anyway, if it is not parotid, you should next visit your dentist. And, the pain can ease or be extreme. Heat only helps some. Read up on the parotid gland and see what you think. Lifes
 
avatar
RedBear2005 responded:
Generally, the nerves don't "swell". However, as Life's has noted, certain muscle groups or glands in and near the face can do so. Although it is certainly possible that you are dealing with trigeminal neuralgia, I'd consider that diagnosis to be a bit of a long shot, given the other symptoms you describe. Though I'm not a doctor, I've been talking with doctors and patients about face pain in all of its varieties for 14 years, and I've web-published on multiple sites that specialize in the subject. TN, of course, is characterized by hyper-sensitivity to light touch. And it can affect any of three major peripheral regions serviced by the nerve distribution. Many patients report pain restricted to only one of those regions. But I've never run into a case where salivation by itself could set off an attack. In all of the possible problems that can produce face pain, alcohol is NEVER a good solution. If you're getting breakthrough pain, you'd have to drink yourself into unconsciousness before you became unaware of TN pain - and then, you'd likely be right back in the pain cycle as soon as you woke up - with a hangover on top of everything else. Investigation of a glandular infection is certainly in order. You may also want to ask the neurologist whom you consult, whether it is in order to try you on a course of anti-seizure meds like Tegretol or Neurontin, to assess for possible TN. I wish you wellness. Go in Peace and Power
 
avatar
klbuie responded:
As somebody who has trigeminal neuralgia, I would strongly urge you to see a neurologist. In fact, see more than one if possible -- I did, because the first one kind of sucked. And as somebody who has Atypical TN, I can tell you that it can take on all sorts of weird symptoms. There are also other possible neurological disorders that could be causing this (e.g., Trigeminal Neuropathic Pain). However, first see a dentist and get a full mandular (I think that's the right word?) x-ray. Just to make sure that there are no signs of infection in the jawbone. If he says there isn't, drop it at that point. Don't make the same mistake I did and waste thousands of dollars on dentists pursuing a dental cause when you've been told there isn't one. At that point I think that you can pretty well assume it's a medical problem. The issue at that point is that unlike dental problems, a lot of neurological problems can not be proven absolutely by tests -- it's simply a matter of ruling things out. But get an MRI and CAT-SCAN if you have insurance; if not, apply immediately for Medicaid. By the way, it is completely possible for the nerve itself to be affected in the way you've described. And I also self-medicated for a while until I found help. It is a hard thing for people who are not in severe pain to understand , but when it is the only thing that can help you sleep or eat, you'll take it. As far as eating is concerned, try protein drinks, Boost, pudding, mashed potatoes, etc., all at room temp. if that is all you can stand. I lived on these things largely for about 6 months before finally being diagnosed. Hang in there -- you will find the answer. And you might simply have an abcess that has reached the jawbone (I know "simply" sounds awful here, but TN is very difficult to treat, so I apologize for that). I wish you luck and wellness and please keep us informed.
 
avatar
Kate199 responded:
Hi, i know this was all written over a year ago but i have EXACTLY the same problem. I'm in excruciating pain and don't know what causes it and what to do! did you ever find a cure to your problem? please i would do anything to get rid of the pain!
 
avatar
RedBear2005 responded:
Kate, I'll add to my earlier posting, to be more directly responsive to your concerns. A number of facial pain disorders can be involved in the sorts of symptoms we're talking about here. These include Trigeminal Neuralgia, Geniculate Neuralgia, Eagle Syndrome, and Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder. To get a clear diagnosis, you'll need to be evaluated by a neurologist and treated by one of a number of different means. TMJ is sometimes corrected by means of mechanical fixtures that keep you from grinding your teeth at night. The Neuralgias often respond to the class of drugs used in controlling seizure disorder. Eagle Syndrome may be managed or interrupted by means of Botox injections or cortisone. There are other options as well. First step in learning which may be most helpful, is to get a definitive diagnosis of which one(s) is/are actually present. Feel free to come back with additional questions... Regards, Red


Helpful Tips

Parkinson's app for iPad
I found a free app for my iPhone/iPad and it seems to be pretty good. It's called Parkinson's Central and it is sponsored by the National ... More
Was this Helpful?
1 of 1 found this helpful

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems to the
Food and Drug Administration

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Neurological Disorders Center