What Causes Nerve Pain on the Right Side of the Face?

One cause of nerve pain on the right side of the face is trigeminal neuralgia, an extremely painful medical disorder, according to WebMD. Generally, people experience stabbing pain on one side, around the scalp, eyes, nose, cheek and lips, but some people have pain at different times on both sides. Symptoms can recur for days or months then disappear for months or years. The condition is rare in people younger than 50, and women experience it more than men.

The trigeminal nerve is among the largest nerves in the head, explains WebMD. The nerve transmits pain, touch, temperature and pressure impulses from the forehead, gums, jaw, face and around the eyes to the brain. When a blood vessel near the brain stem presses on the nerve, other blood vessels in the brain can rub against the trigeminal nerve root. Heartbeats cause rubbing continuously over time, which wears away the membrane that insulates the nerve root. Nerve irritation results, causing trigeminal neuralgia.

Simple acts, such as swallowing, teeth brushing or applying makeup, can trigger symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, notes WebMD. Even the movement of a light breeze can cause severe electric-shock-like pain. Doctors use magnetic resonance imaging to diagnose whether multiple sclerosis or a tumor is causing trigeminal nerve irritation. No other test can establish definitively whether trigeminal neuralgia is present, but tests can eliminate other reasons for facial pain. A patient’s description of the symptoms typically enables a physician to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia.