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Years of Chronic Dull Cheek Pain and Head Sensitivity

For the past 15 years I've experienced constant, dull pain concentrated around the cheek bones. It literally never goes away. It's a constant presence in my life. There wasn't a specific traumatic event that initiated the pain -- it began slowly and built up over time.

It feels fairly shallow and muscular related (my speculation). If I do one of those exaggerated facial exercises where you stretch your face in various ways (eg opening the mouth really wide for a few seconds), the pain almost disappears momentarily before it comes flooding back in. However, if I do these consistently as some doctors and physical therapists have recommended they tend to make things worse. If I were to massage my face, immediately afterwards it would feel as though I am still touching it even though I am not.

I've tried many medications over the years for the pain, but the one that's consistently helped is Elavil. Just a low dose (10mg) is enough. Without this I literally couldn't function, though. I've tried tapering off but had no luck.

Heat seems to inflame the pain.

Vigorous exercise helps, but only temporarily.

Other than the constant pain the other vexing symptom is that my head is extremely sensitive to pressure. This is a big problem because I have a computer job and need to wear my glasses most of the day. This means in addition to the underlying dull ache that's always with me, I also have to deal with the pain of my glasses touching my face all day long. To minimize the discomfort I use the lightest, widest titanium frames so they barely grip my head, but it doesn't matter. The pressure builds throughout the day until eventually I'm just an exhausted mess.

It's this last symptom with my glasses that has left most of the doctors and other health care professionals I've seen scratching their heads. Literally no one I've ever talked to has ever seen a patient who's had this sort of head sensitivity. I feel like a freak.

Given the fact that the pain is centered around my cheeks, it's natural to suspect my sinuses. I did see a sinus specialist years ago who found nothing. I'm willing to seek a second opinion, but I don't seem to have any obvious sinus related symptoms, other than pain in that general area.

I've been down the TMJ rabbit hole and spent years seeing specialists and wearing various splints and orthotics. Apparently I do clench my teeth at night, but the current device I wear keeps that under control. I've gone back and forth as to whether this has anything to do with my cheek pain or not. I don't have any pain in the jaw or neck area, and anyway all the treatment options I've tried haven't helped. I'm still open to the possibility that there's a TMJ/TMD relationship, however.

I've spent my entire life in front of a computer and have developed bad posture, so over the years I've speculated that this has caused or at least contributed to my pain. Some doctors I've talked to encouraged this speculation, others discouraged it. Although I have worked on this and have improved my posture (it's still not great), I'm not sure it's helped.

I've seen many doctors and specialists over the years. Neurologists, TMJ dentists, osteopaths, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists. Too many to count.

So my specific questions are:

1) Has anyone experienced anything like these symptoms before? The dull ache in the cheek? The sensitivity to pressure?

2) What kind of doctor or health care professional should I see? At this point I really don't know what direction I should be headed.

Thank you for any advice you might have.
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replied June 24th, 2019
Hello and welcome to EHF !

I went through your query and i understand your concern.This pain likely attributes to your job description. Too much exposure to computer screens may give eye ball fatigues and associated muscles. Headache variants should be considered in differentials. Trigeminal neuralgia is less likely as that is very painful. Let your physician have a look and assess and proceed.

Take care

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