Groups at Risk for Neuropathic Pain

There are a variety of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing a neuropathic pain condition. However, as the underlying cause of many neuropathic pain conditions is unknown, there remains considerable uncertainty as to what may increase the incidence of orofacial neuropathy. For the major orofacial neuropathic pain conditions discussed here, some link has been found for the following groups.

Trigeminal neuralgia: This rare condition manifests in approximately 150 per million people every year. Women are more likely than men to suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, and the disorder most often affects those over 50 years old. There may be a genetic link as some evidence suggests that the condition runs in families. The reason for this may be an inherited blood vessel formation prone to nerve compression.

Atypical odontalgia: Little is known about the mechanisms underlying this condition, and in many patients a cause may not be identified. However, one study of patients suffering from phantom tooth pain suggests a connection between atypical odontalgia and migraine headaches and cluster headaches. Those with a personal and family history of idiopathic, or unknown, headache had an increased likelihood of experiencing phantom tooth pain.

Oral nerve injury: An undesirable result of dental procedures, injury to the nerves running along the lower jaw is more likely to occur in individuals requiring procedures such as tooth extraction, local anesthetic or improper implant placement. In one study, lingual nerve damage due to local anesthetic injection was found to manifest in 1 in every 26,000 to 160,000 incidences of injection. Another study found that 0.15% of cases of local aesthetic injections damaged the patient's lingual nerve, and that after a period of 6 months, symptoms were still present for 0.008% of patients.

Complex regional pain syndrome: While it is thought that CRPS is more common in young women, this neuropathic pain condition affects men and women of all ages. Little is known about the onset of CRPS and underlying causes of the disorder.