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Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a type of chronic pain that affects your face. It causes extreme, sudden burning or shock-like pain. It usually affects one side of the face. Any vibration on your face, even from talking, can set it off. The condition may come and go, disappearing for days or even months. But the longer you have it, the less often it goes away.

TN usually affects people over 50, especially women. The cause is probably a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. Tumors and multiple sclerosis can also cause TN, but in some cases the cause is unknown.

There is no single test to diagnose TN. It can be hard to diagnose, since many other conditions can cause facial pain. Treatment options include medicines, surgery, and complementary techniques.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following features are indicative of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain
  • spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by touching the face, chewing, speaking and brushing teeth
  • constant aching
  • pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve
  • pain affecting one side of the face at a time
  • pain focused in one spot
It is possible that Trigeminal Neuralgia shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following are the most common causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • aging
  • multiple sclerosis
  • tumor compressing the trigeminal nerve

Other Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following are the less common causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • brain lesions
  • surgical injuries
  • stroke
  • facial trauma

Risk Factors for Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • hypertension
  • multiple sclerosis

Prevention of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Occurrence of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Trigeminal Neuralgia cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Trigeminal Neuralgia most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged > 50 years

Common Gender

Trigeminal Neuralgia can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • Neurological examination: To determine exactly where the pain is occurring
  • Reflex tests: To determine if the symptoms are caused by a compressed nerve
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): To determine the cause of trigeminal neuralgia

Doctor for Diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • Neurologist

Complications of Trigeminal Neuralgia if untreated

Yes, Trigeminal Neuralgia causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Trigeminal Neuralgia is left untreated:
  • affects person's quality of life

Procedures for Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following procedures are used to treat Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • Microvascular decompression: Relocate or remove the blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal root
  • Gamma Knife radiosurgery: Damage the trigeminal nerve to reduce or eliminate pain
  • Rhizotomy: Destroys the nerve fibers that causes facial numbness
  • Glycerol injection: Damages the trigeminal nerve and blocks the pain signals
  • Balloon compression: Inflates the balloon with enough pressure to damage the trigeminal nerve
  • Radiofrequency thermal lesioning: Destroys the nerve fibers associated with pain

Medicines for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Below is the list of medicines used for Trigeminal Neuralgia:

Self-care for Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • Regular exercise: Helpful in keeping the brain active
  • Yoga: Relieves from stress
  • Lifestyle changes: Eat a balanced diet
  • Avoid smoking

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
  • Acupuncture: Reduces the pain
  • Get chiropractic therapy: Reduces the symptoms
  • Intake vitamin supplements: Plays role in treatment

Patient Support for Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The following actions may help Trigeminal Neuralgia patients:
  • Join support group: Gives you encouragement and understanding about the disease

Time for Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Trigeminal Neuralgia to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Trigeminal Neuralgia.

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