Department: Ask the Experts
Q I've noticed that right before I get a migraine, my jaw and sometimes other parts of my face starts to feel sore or painful. Is this normal?
A It is not uncommon for some people with migraine to have facial pain, either at the onset or during the headache. This pain, abnormal sensation, or soreness in the jaw, facial skin, or the scalp is known as allodynia.
The pain is caused by changes in the central nervous system when a migraine occurs. During a migraine, the blood vessels that connect to the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for facial sensation, become inflamed and dilated. The trigeminal nerve becomes sensitized and causes allodynia.
These symptoms are sometimes an early sign that a migraine is approaching and that you should therefore take your medication. The longer you wait, the less effective the medications are.