Indian Journal of Pain

: 2015  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-

Atypical facial pain: Is it still a diagnostic wastebasket?

Ujwala R Newadkar 
 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, ACPM Dental College, Dhule, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Ujwala R Newadkar
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, ACPM Dental College, Dhule - 424 003. Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Newadkar UR. Atypical facial pain: Is it still a diagnostic wastebasket?.Indian J Pain 2015;29:1-1

How to cite this URL:
Newadkar UR. Atypical facial pain: Is it still a diagnostic wastebasket?. Indian J Pain [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 25 ];29:1-1
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Full Text

Pain is the number one reason people seek health care; it is deemed the ''fifth vital sign,'' to mark its importance as health status indicator. [1] Orofacial pain refers to a large group of disorders, including temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), headaches, neuralgia, pain arising from dental or mucosal origins, and idiopathic pain. [2],[3] Atypical facial pain (AFP) is a diagnosis of exclusion for pain not meeting the diagnostic criteria of other facial pain problems. It has been considered to represent a psychological disorder although no specific diagnostic criteria have ever been established. AFP is defined more by what it is not than by what it is. Due to the vagueness of this term and in an attempt to avoid further confusion, the International Association for the Study of Pain discontinued to list AFP in their classification of chronic pain. [4] Instead the broader term AFP has been replaced by two specific subentities or, depending on the view, closely related conditions, namely "atypical odontalgia" (phantom tooth pain) and "glossodynia and sore mouth" (oral dysesthesia); [4] the latter of these is also referred to as, "burning mouth syndrome." [5] However, in a clinical environment the term AFP is still widely accepted, and in agreement with the mainstream of the literature. Diseases that have to be taken into consideration in the differential diagnoses of AFP include trigeminal neuralgia and other craniofacial neuralgias, cluster and other vascular headaches, TMDs, postherpetic neuralgia, temporal arteritis, painful diseases located in the teeth, jaws, or maxillary sinus, disorders of the cervical spine and the cervical musculature, neoplasia of the maxillary sinus or nasopharynx, diseases of the central nervous system, (projected pain), and pain of psychological origin. [6],[7] Clinical decision-making thus requires knowledge of neuroanatomy and physiology, a thorough review of patient-reported history and symptoms, and a comprehensive clinical examination with relevant and targeted clinical diagnostic testing, supplemented by laboratory tests if needed. [8] AFP is considered the least manageable form of chronic pain. [9] A multidisciplinary approach of therapy involving different specialties, including dentistry, neurology, otorhinolaryngology, and psychology/psychiatry, is indicated.


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