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There can be a number of reasons why you can feel pain in your tongue. The tongue is subjected to a huge number of temperature changes every day, faces minor cuts and nicks in an environment that is full of opportunistic microorganisms, and has some extremely important structures running through it.

The cause of pain may be due to an injury or infection. Most of these causes are minor and self limiting, while some may require medical attention.

Some common causes for pain in the tongue are:

1.Biting your tongue

This is most common cause for developing an injury on your tongue. If you bite your tongue hard enough, then it is possible to cause serious injury which can take a long time to heal.

2.Temperature Injury

Eating anything that is too hot can cause you trouble. While, you would feel that everyone would know that by now, these kind of injuries still account for a large number of tongue injuries.

3.Viral Infections

There are a number of viruses which cause lesions on the tongue, causing ulceration and desquamation which can be acutely painful. Most of these lesions are self limiting, but they have a tendency to reoccur after a few months.

4.Mechanical irritation

People who are using a dental prosthetic or have dental braces often face trouble with intra-oral injuries. A denture with a jagged edge, an improper dental filling or crown, or even an improperly formed/chipped tooth can cause chronic mechanical injury to the tongue. It is important to get rid of any offending chronic source of irritation as it increases the chances of getting oral cancer.


Neuralgia can have a specific origin or can remain undiagnosed in many cases. People suffering from this usually have sharp shooting pains without any apparent cause. There are triggers which can be indentified in some cases like Glossopharyngeal neuralgia and Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Tumors, diabetes, infections, aging and degenerative diseases are some of things that have to be looked for in cases of suspected neuralgia.


Certain syndromes with lesions on the tongue can manifest later in life and can be the source of pain as well. Some of the syndromes that affect the tongue are geographic tongue and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Down syndrome.

It is rare that these syndromes will affect only the tongue and so other symptoms will almost always be present. These syndromes can be managed with symptomatic coverage although treatment for many of the associated lesions is not possible.

The incidence of developmental abnormalities is also much more in these kinds of patients.


Most patients with tongue lesions have symptoms of burning sensations, pain and altered taste sensations. The ability to tolerate spicy food is also greatly reduced. The management of these lesions depends on the initial cause.

Cuts, abrasions and ulcers are treated with antiseptic and analgesic topical ointments that provide pain relief as well as allow the healing to take place. Viral infections may need anti viral medication along with topical drugs.

Autoimmune disorders are syndromes can be managed with topical steroid applications along with adaptation of lifestyle and food habits.

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