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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are facial pains with headaches always sinus problems?

    I am having a lot of pain in my cheeks (upper) and headaches - do you think this is sinus? I have had several lots of surgery to my nose and I did have a CT scan and it only showed that where the sinus drains is narrow but not blocked. What do you suggest?
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  • Grant Frost


    Visit my website for all things health and wellness: A senior physiotherapist with a background in effective management of most common and uncommon physical … View Profile


    This is not always the case.

    In a high percentage of cases, there seems to be a strong link between the upper joints and muscles of the neck and facial pain/headaches.

    These areas of the body have both neural and early fetal developmental connections to the skin and muscles of the head and face. When overloaded, these joints and muscles can become stiff/tight and sensitive. Once sensitised, anywhere that relates to these areas can potentially seem painful as well. 

    It is very common for a headache to be “referred” from these areas.

    It must also be noted that headaches and facial pain can come from a wide variety of sources, both un-sinister and sinister. They should always be treated with relative caution and assessed by relevant professionals for correct management.


  • 91Jat

    HealthShare Member

    Hi Grant,

    Thank you so much for the information.

    Hopefully I can try and get some help.

    Much appreciated.


  • 91Jat

    HealthShare Member

    Hi Grant,

    Do you think an Osteopath could help me?


  • Mr. Roger O'Toole


    Roger O'Toole is the Director and senior clinician of The Melbourne Headache Centre. Since opening the Melbourne Headache Centre in 2012 Roger has amassed over … View Profile

    I agree with Grant. While there is no doubt the sinuses can become “clogged”, with these “narrow drains” it is not uncommon for this problem to be referred from your upper cervical spine.

    The nerve that provide a majority of sensory information from the face, including the jaw, teeth, sinuses and nasal passage carries that information into the brain via the upper neck. Here this nerve shares space with the upper cervical nerves in an area called the Trigemino-cervical nucleus.

    Suffice to say, if there is a problem in the upper cervical spine the pain can be referred back along the Trigeminal nerve. This is an often overlooked connection in head and facial pain.

    I would suggest that once the appropriate medical investigation has occurred to rule out serious pathology (which is quite rare), an appropriate step would be to seek a skilled and thourough examination of the neck to discover if the pain is linked or not.


  • 91Jat

    HealthShare Member

    Hi Roger,

    Thank you so much for replying to my post, much appreciated.

    Thanks again,

  • 2


    Dr Sim Choroomi

    Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon

    There are many causes of headaches and facial pain and there is some overlap - sinus infection or inflammation is just one of the possible causes. 

    Migraines, atypical headches, dental issues, eye conditions , jaw joint issues all can cause facial and head pain.

    If you have other symptoms such as blocked nose, nasal congestion,  poor sense of smell then chronic sinusitis as a cause of headaches is more likely. 

    If your symptoms persist then referal to an ENT specialist for accurate diagnosis is recommended. 

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