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Diagnosis of Migraine & Headache Types

Left Sided Facial Pain Relatedt to Migraine?

  • By tammay

    Hi Everyone,
    I’ve suffered from migraine headaches since college. In the last year my migraine patterns have changed, though, probably due to age (I’m 45) and also trying to have healthier habits (walking nearly every day, cutting out meat and dairy). I used to get migraine headaches every other week for 3 days or so of bad pain and nausea. But in the last year, I’ve only been getting migraine headaches once a month (either before or after my period). Until a few months ago, they were the usual 3 day very bad migraines all day with only very short intervals of relief and the peak of the migraine would be a very stabbing excruciating pain around my left eye, temple, and the line leading from my upper jaw to the ear. I discovered Progressive Muscle Relaxation about two months ago and have been doing it faithfully once a day (and sometimes twice if I get a headache). It’s been an incredible help and my migraines have been reduced in intensity and duration for the most part. I think I’ve only had one migraine episode with the stabbing pain since I started PMR.

    Then, about 3 weeks ago, I started to develop nerve pain on the left side of my face. It’s not a stabbing pain but more of a strong ache that goes on under my left cheekbone and sometimes spreads to the upper jaw on that side. In the last few days it’s also spread to a slight tingling sensation down the left side of my jaw and to the lower jaw. It also sometimes causes some aching around the upper gum line on my left side and a few times that has also been happening on the lower gum line. While I do have some teeth issues on that side, I don’t think it’s dental-related, though, as I don’t have a toothache and even when it’s painful, I can still eat on that side without much problem.

    About 5 days into the problem I went to see a doctor (the first time in 3 years, so this was a big deal for me). He diagnosed me with seasonal allergies right away and gave me a prescription for nasal spray and antibiotics, though he said not to take the antibiotics unless I felt a sinus infection coming on (which, according to the description of what one is, I haven’t got, so I haven’t taken them). The nasal spray helped for the first day but after that it didn’t really help.

    I’ve been taking Advil every 5-6 hours for the last few weeks and it does make the pain go away but I have to keep taking it. I also tried taking Advil Allergy And Sinus yesterday and the first dose helped a lot. But the second I took didn’t help at all. In fact, it seemed to make the pain worse. Today I am back to taking Advil and it’s helping.

    I guess this long post is getting to my question of whether this could all be just another change in my migraine patterns. The pain I’m having isn’t a migraine or even headache at all (that is, it isn’t in my head but more in my face) and I haven’t had a migraine in 3 weeks. I’ve been doing a bit of research online and it seems that the migraine pain is connected to the nerves that trigger facial pain, plus my migraine episodes have included facial pain in the areas I’m feeling now (but that pain was very stabbing and severe and went away when the migraine did – this one is more of an ache, so it’s less severe, but it is consistent). So might this be my migraine issues evolving into something different, since I know that migraine patterns can change?

    BTW, I did tell the doctor about my migraine issues but he didn’t seem to concerned about them when I said that I’ve been taking Advil. He did mention that he could give me medications that would prevent or treat them if they become more frequent but from what I was telling him about the frequency and how Advil did sometimes help (though not always), he didn’t think I needed them.

    Tam

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Tam,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m sorry you are having a rough time right now, but you did the right things going to see your doctor. It’s true migraine patterns can change over time, but when we have new and/or different symptoms its important to discuss them with our medical team so they can rule out other serious conditions.

    If the pain is constant, that may be an indicator that something else is going on, and you mentioned there are dental issues. I would encourage you to investigate that area as well. While it is true the trigeminal nerve is involved in the migraine process, the pain is usually transient.

    I would use caution when frequently taking Advil. One of the issues we can get ourselves into when taking pain relievers and/or migraine abortive medications, whether they are over-the-counter or prescription, more than two – three times a week is called medication overuseheadache, or moh. If we are in an moh cycle (which was formerly called rebound) we can end up in a daily cycle of endless pain that is hard to break and our migraines will be difficult to break. I’ve been here before and it’s not pleasant. Let me share information on this topic that I hope will be helpful; https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    As far as migraine prevention goes, if we have four or more severe migraines a month, it’s time to talk to our doctor about migraine prevention medication. There are many to choose from and we have information on that here; https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-preventives-start/.

    Have you been able to identify your migraine triggers? Once we are able to identify our triggers, we can learn to avoid the ones we can, and manage the ones we can’t, hormones and weather changes. Triggers can include certain foods, odors, lights, missing meals, alcohol, smoking, irregular sleeping patterns and many others. Take a look at this information when you get a chance; https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-management-essential-trigger-management/.

    Even thought your doctor may be very good, it may be time to find a doctor who is a bit more knowledgeable about migraine and headache disorders. Seeing a “true” migraine/headache disorder expert can make a big difference. Let me share some information on this with you; https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/ and
    https://migraine.com/blog/how-are-migraine-specialists-different/.

    I’ve given you a ton of information. If you have questions after you read it, please let me know.
    Nancy

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  • By tammay

    Hi Nancy,
    Thank you for all the information. I know I need to explore the dental issues (mainly a broken tooth on my upper left side) but I can’t pay for any treatment right now even with my dental insurance so I’m forced to wait until the beginning of next year to do that. However, the broken tooth has been there for a few months and my nerve pain started only 3 weeks ago, which is one reason why I don’t think it’s related to that.

    I know about rebound headaches and was experiencing those when I took Excedrine Migraine, which is why I stopped taking it. I’m very careful with taking Advil as prescribed. I’m only taking it every day now since the nerve pain started but before that I only took it when I had a migraine, which, as I stated, was once a month.

    I have done some experimenting with migraine triggers and I have identified a few for me (bananas, balsamic vinegar, and, oddly, magnesium, ginger, and feverfew supplements – all the stuff that is supposed to help prevent migraine) and avoid them. I also avoid too much caffeine and foods that are known migraine triggers, so I think I’m OK there.

    As for the doctor, I totally agree. I’m one of these people who hates going to the doctor and avoids it like the plague so it has to be bad to drag me to one :-). I didn’t have medical insurance for a long time because I”m self-employed but now I do, which is why I went. But he was just a doctor I chose from a list that was close-by. However, I’m up for renewal of my medical insurance as of this month and I’m checking out changing plans and will definitely be changing doctors. I don’t know if H can find one that is more sympathetic to migraines but I’m certainly going to try.

    Tam

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  • By tammay

    Hi All,
    Just an update. I’m still having sinus issues, though they have definitely become less severe. Although I don’t think it’s dental issues (because now the sinus congestion is more on both sides of my face rather than on the left), I am working to get my dental insurance straightened out so I can see a dentist. I’m continuing to take Advil twice a day but I am feeling much better. I’ve been eating a lot more fruits and veggies and taking my vitamins and also some cell salts that are supposed to help with pain so I think all that has made it better. If the dental checkup finds nothing related to the pain I’m feeling then I’m thinking it could really be allergies like the doctor said.

    On the plus side, I haven’t had a migraine during these 4 weeks but that might be due to the fact that I’m taking Advil on a regular basis.

    Tam

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  • By bookworm

    Has a doctor discussed Trigeminal neuralgia with you? I have severe left sided face pain and migraines and the physician is suggesting that it could be TN and migraines. I was prescribed diclofenac eye drops for headache onset and baclofen muscle relaxers to take as well. It has helped thus far, but the pain can be unbearable.

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  • By Jojiieme

    Hi, I hope you managed to get relief and also work out the puzzle behind that ache!
    I occasionally get stabbing shooting pains in my face before migraines. These aches and pains tend to travel along the paths of old skull fractures (I was in a car accident) or along nerves that had been affected by either shingles (in my right eye, in my 20s) or that are mostly paralysed (from the car accident, age30).
    Looking at my diary, they seem mainly to ‘hit’ when a bad-weather migraine is coming on, so I think of them as almost arthritic pains. Except for the one that feels like it’s pushing my right eye out of my head! That one, I think of as ‘pure evil’ 😉
    To treat, sometimes I’ve found a warmed face-washer helps to relax the muscles and ease the tension. Otherwise, I use a controlled breathing technique to breathe-away the pain and calm/empty my mind enough so that a distraction can take over (music, sleep etc). I’m allergic to a lot of the usual rescue options so need to look at non-medical interventions.

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