What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

June 25, 2019

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a type of nerve pain that affects the face. Those who suffer from trigeminal neuralgia describe it as pain that either burns or is sharp.

Trigeminal neuralgia is more common in women than men. Although younger people can develop TN, the condition is most common in people 50 years and older.

TN’s pain is usually felt on one side of the jaw or cheek.  Although it is not life threatening, the condition can cause pain that is very debilitating.  A flare-up begins with tingling or numbness in the area. Then, pain starts to come and go, often in bursts that last anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes. During a flare up of the condition, the bursts of pain can become more and more frequent, and when attacks worsen over time, the bouts of pain tend to last for longer periods. The intensity of the pain can make it hard to get through the day. 

The pain can be triggered by pressure on your cheek. This pressure can be created by a razor while shaving or from fingers while makeup is being applied. Other pain triggers are the brushing of teeth, washing the face, eating, drinking, standing in the wind, and even talking.

Experts think that a blood vessel pressing against the trigeminal nerve triggers the pain. Sometimes multiple sclerosis can also cause the facial pain. In rare cases, a tumor may be the cause. 

Trigeminal neuralgia Symptoms

-Flashes of severe pain in the cheek or jaw, rarely on both sides
-Pain that feels like electric shocks or like a knife
-Pain often triggered by touch, wind, eating, or brushing teeth
-Anxiety from the thought of the pain returning

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