12 causes of head and face pain


Headaches and face pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions.  Here are 12 possible causes.

  1. Sinus pressure from either viral or bacterial infection may cause headaches.
  2. A tooth infection or cavity may cause forehead pain.  Along with this, any time of mouth, face, or jaw infection, may cause headaches.
  3. Tonsillitis along with causing a sore throat, bad breath, stomach ache and fever, may also cause sinus congestion causing a headache.
  4. An upper neck injury can cause a patient to notice headaches.
  5. A mid neck injury can refer pain to the head, sometimes this would be called a ‘cervicogenic’ (meaning from the neck), headache.
  6. Spasming suboccipital muscles (at the base of the head) may compress nerve and blood vessels sufficiently to cause a headache.
  7. Post trauma migraine (PTM) from even seemingly minor head or neck injury, may cause PTM headaches.  This includes whiplash from a motor vehicle accident which may cause headaches, often in people with no prior history of headaches.
  8. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) conditions (jaw) may cause headaches. Grinding ones teeth (which often goes along with TMJ problems) as well as displaced TMJ discs can cause pain to the temples, back of head, neck, or even down to the shoulders, as well as to the forehead.  This type of headache is often unsuccessfully treated as migraine headache.
  9. Multiple sclerosis (MS) involving a cranial nerve may cause an unrelenting headache.  MS is a condition where the body’s immune system attacks its own nerve fiber protection (myelin), forming scar tissue (sclerosis), resulting in distorted or interrupted nerve impulses traveling between the brain and body.  This can result in a wide variety of symptoms, including headaches.
  10. Glaucoma (an eye disease) as well as may other eye conditions, including a need for an updated corrective eye wear prescription, may cause a headache.
  11. A brain tumor may cause a headache.  Occurring about 70% of the time with brain tumors, headaches are more common in primary brain tumors than with metastatic brain tumors.
  12. Intracranial hemorrhaging is one of the more serious causes of headaches.  The accumulation of blood within the cranial vault (skull) may cause the patient to experience a headache. This can result from high blood pressure (hypertension) damage to blood vessel walls.  Individuals older than 70 have a 7 times increased risk for intracranial hemorrhage, but only about 40% of people with intracranial hemorrhage have a headache (other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, and numbness, tingling, and weakness).

Headaches can be caused by an array of underlying and in some cases serious diseases and conditions. A proper assessment including a thorough history and examination, along with needed tests,  usually allows for a physician to arrive at a provisional diagnosis. This allows for ideal care, because depending upon the cause of your headache, different treatments would be most appropriate. Headaches are the bodies attempt to communicate that something is wrong.  You should not accept that a headache is just a ‘normal headache’.

Headaches may actually be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Of particular concern is a headache which is ‘different than any other headache you’ve ever had’–if you have a headache like this, you should see your doctor immediately and if you can’t get in to see your doctor you should consider an emergency room visit.

Some people try to ignore headaches or purchase over the counter medications and attempt to mask their headaches, neither of which is a good idea.  Finally, there are many other potential causes of headaches such as too drastically reducing ones daily consumption of caffeine, allergies, hormonal imbalances, various vascular and cardiovascular conditions.  Some underlying causes of headaches are quite serious.

Don’t accept that you simple have ‘headaches’, but ask your doctors to explain things to you as if they really cared about you.

This information is not to be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please talk to your health care provider for anything related to your health including but not limited to diagnosis, treatment advice and/or care. Always seek the advice of a health care professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone.