A cohort of 973 consecutive attendants at a rhinology clinic was studied prospectively and divided into patients without facial pain (n = 566, 58 per cent) and patients with facial pain (n = 407, 42 per cent). The prevalence of nasal mucosal contact points was the same in both groups, being four per cent in patients with nasal contact points without facial pain and four per cent in patients with facial pain. A contact point is defined as when contact remains after topical decongestion. Of the 18 patients with facial pain, nine had a spur contacting the lateral nasal wall and nine had a middle turbinate contacting the septum. These 18 patients were followed up for a mean of two years and two months. In the light of their treatment and response the following diagnoses were made: five had tension-type headache, six had midfacial segment pain, one had migraine, two had cluster headache and four had purulent nasal disease. Of the four with unilateral symptoms, two had a contact point on the contralateral side. Eleven of these 18 patients responded to medical treatment for tension-type headache or midfacial segment pain, migraine and cluster headache, three patients were better after surgery for coexistng purulent nasal disease and one patient had a spur removed surgically and remained better at 2 years follow-up, whereas three patients were no better after the same procedure. The results demonstrate that the prevalence of nasal contact points in patients with facial pain is the same as in those within pain. Surgery undertaken to remove mucosal contact points for facial pain is usually unnecessary as the aetiology of this facial pain appears to be a more central processes.