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. 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.
Desensitisation exercises are a way to retrain the skin and superficial tissues when there is hypersensitivity. For example, cotton wool can be stroked on the painful area for a minute a day, progressing to several times a day, as the skin and tissue adapts to the increased strength of the stimulus. After a while, the cotton wool can be replaced by a cotton cloth and eventually rougher fibers can be used.