Incidence of facial pain in the general population

Pain. 2009 Dec 15;147(1-3):122-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.08.023. Epub 2009 Sep 26.


Facial pain has a considerable impact on quality of life. Accurate incidence estimates in the general population are scant. The aim was therefore to estimate the incidence rate (IR) of trigeminal neuralgia (TGN), postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), cluster headache (CH), occipital neuralgia (ON), local neuralgia (LoN), atypical facial pain (AFP), glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN) and paroxysmal hemicrania (PH) in the Netherlands. In the population-based Integrated Primary Care Information (IPCI) medical record database potential facial pain cases were identified from codes and narratives. Two medical doctors reviewed medical records, questionnaires from general practitioners and specialist letters using criteria of the International Association for the Study of Pain. A pain specialist arbitrated if necessary and a random sample of all cases was evaluated by a neurologist. The date of onset was defined as date of first specific symptoms. The IR was calculated per 100,000PY. Three hundred and sixty-two incident cases were ascertained. The overall IR [95% confidence interval] was 38.7 [34.9-42.9]. It was more common among women compared to men. Trigeminal neuralgia and cluster headache were the most common forms among the studied diseases. Paroxysmal hemicrania and glossopharyngeal neuralgia were among the rarer syndromes. The IR increased with age for all diseases except CH and ON, peaking in the 4th and 7th decade, respectively. Postherpetic neuralgia, CH and LoN were more common in men than women. From this we can conclude that facial pain is relatively rare, although more common than estimated previously based on hospital data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Planning / methods
  • Facial Pain / classification
  • Facial Pain / diagnosis
  • Facial Pain / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult