Jaw & Facial Pain

San Francisco Center For TMJ and Sleep Apnea Dr. Larson Signs and Symptoms of Headaches

Similar to headaches, the exact cause of facial pain appears to be unknown. However, there are some working theories that might help to explain the symptoms of facial pain. One underlying cause appears to be muscle injury or repetitive strain, which activate facial trigger points. Another cause might also be psychological stressors and physical strain because both can increase muscle tension along fibers referred to as the taut band, which is a hardened ropelike stretch of muscle fibers in which triggers are present. Lastly, facial pain might originate from postural stressors, such as poor body posture while sitting at a desk, which is held for prolonged periods of time.

When a trigger point within the muscle is activated, the muscle fibers contract, which results in a sensation from trigger point activation that may take the form of referred pain, or pain in an area other than the point of origin. For example, a trigger in the trapezius muscle, which helps raise the shoulder, can shoot pain up the shoulder to the neck and head, and can be experienced as a headache.

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