Trigeminal Neuralgia

What You Need to Know

Aretaeus first described trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, in the first century AD. Many consider it to be the most severe pain that exists. It generally affects only one side of the face and is described as stabbing and shock-like in nature. The pain occurs in bursts lasting a few seconds to a few hours. There are periods of remission without pain that can last months or even years. Stimulation of certain areas of the face can trigger the pain. As a result, most sufferers avoid activities such as shaving, drinking hot or cold liquids, washing and biting. Unlike other pain conditions, there is no concrete reason for why trigeminal neuralgia occurs. There is no formal test to determine if someone has trigeminal neuralgia. Our doctors diagnose this condition by getting a history from you and examining you. Generally, patients over age 50 are affected by it. In addition, women are twice as likely to suffer from the disease than men. The attacks can increase in severity and frequency over time.

Causes

There is no concrete cause of trigeminal neuralgia, but it may be triggered by compression or damage to the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve splits into three different branches along the sides of the face and cover areas of the forehead, the cheek, and the skin covering the jaw.

Symptoms

  • Stabbing, shock-like pain in one side of the face.

If relief is not attained, the patient may be referred for a surgical evaluation.