Trigeminal neuralgia is a severe pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. For patients who suffer with trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of the face, such as from brushing their teeth or lightly touching their face, may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain.
Short mild attacks may initially be suffered, but trigeminal neuralgia can progress and cause longer, more frequent bouts of extreme pain. The incidence of trigeminal neuralgia is relatively low and it usually develops after the age of 40 with a higher incidence rate in women.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Symptoms
Trigeminal neuralgia causes episodes of intense pain in the eyes, lips, nose, scalp, forehead and jaw. It is typically characterised by sudden and brief attacks of intense and stabbing pain and is usually limited to one side of the face.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Causes
Usually, the onset of trigeminal neuralgia is assumed to be a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve in the head, which sends branches to the forehead, cheek and lower jaw.
Other major causes of trigeminal neuralgia include pressure of a tumour on the nerve or multiple sclerosis, which damages the myelin sheaths. However, the onset of trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by a number of seemingly minor disturbances to face, including light touch on the skin, washing, brushing the teeth, blowing the nose, encountering a light breeze or smiling and talking.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment
This extremely painful condition should not be left untreated. Because of the variety of treatment options available, doctors can usually effectively manage trigeminal neuralgia with medication, topical treatment that can be applied locally, Botox injections, Peripheral Electrical Nerve Stimulation (PENS) treatment or surgery.