Trigeminal Neuralgia: The Face Pain You Should Know About

Usually, when you seem someone grabbing the side of their face in pain, one would automatically think that it’s their jaw or teeth that is causing such pain, but it could be a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia.

If it sounds serious, don’t worry, you’re not alone. TN affects approximately 14,000 people in the United States.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. The pain will usually be severe and occur on one side of the face. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face — such as from brushing your teeth or putting on makeup — may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain.

You may initially experience short, mild attacks. But trigeminal neuralgia can progress and cause longer, more-frequent bouts of searing pain. Trigeminal neuralgia affects women more often than men, and it’s more likely to occur in people who are older than 50.

Because of the variety of treatment options available, having trigeminal neuralgia doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to a life of pain. Doctors usually can effectively manage trigeminal neuralgia with medications, injections or surgery.

In trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, the trigeminal nerve’s function is disrupted. Usually, the problem is contact between a normal blood vessel — in this case, an artery or a vein — and the trigeminal nerve at the base of your brain. This contact puts pressure on the nerve and causes it to malfunction.

Trigeminal neuralgia can occur as a result of aging, or it can be related to multiple sclerosis or a similar disorder that damages the myelin sheath protecting certain nerves. Trigeminal neuralgia can also be caused by a tumor compressing the trigeminal nerve.

Some people may experience trigeminal neuralgia due to a brain lesion or other abnormalities. In other cases, surgical injuries, stroke or facial trauma may be responsible for trigeminal neuralgia.

The area of pain will be based on the three branches of the trigeminal nerve:

Ophthalmic: Affects the forehead, nose, and eyes
Maxillary: Affects the lower eyelid, side of nose, cheek, gum, lip, and upper teeth
Mandibular: Affects the jaw, lower teeth, gum, and lower lip
Trigeminal neuralgia sometimes affects more than one branch at a time.

A variety of triggers may set off the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, including:

– Shaving
– Touching your face
– Eating
– Drinking
– Brushing your teeth
– Talking
– Kissing
– Putting on makeup
– Encountering a breeze
– Smiling
– Washing your face

The main treatments for trigeminal neuralgia involve prescribed medications and surgery. But, it’s important to note that…