Monday, March 16, 2009

Trigeminal Neuralgia

10 years of suffering... and finally we knew and we got the right medicine for my father's illness. Thanks to Dr. Floresca.

Trigeminal Neuralgia
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Imagine having a jab of lightning-like pain shoot through your face when you brush your teeth or put on makeup. Sound excruciating? If you have trigeminal neuralgia, attacks of such pain may occur frequently.

You may initially experience short, mild attacks, but trigeminal neuralgia can progress, causing longer, more frequent bouts of searing pain. These attacks can be spontaneous or provoked by even mild stimulation of your face. 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.


You may have one or more of these symptom patterns with trigeminal neuralgia:

  • Occasional twinges of mild pain
  • Episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that may feel like an electric shock
  • Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things like touching the face, chewing, speaking, and brushing teeth
  • Bouts of pain lasting from a few seconds to several seconds
  • Episodes of several attacks lasting days, weeks, months or longer — some people have periods when they experience no pain
  • Pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve (nerve branches), including the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, lips, or less often the eye and forehead
  • Pain affecting one side of your face at a time
  • Pain focused in one spot or spread in a wider pattern
  • Attacks becoming more frequent and intense over time


The trigeminal nerve carries sensation from your face to your brain. In trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, the nerve's function is disrupted. Usually, the problem is contact between a normal artery or 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. Less commonly, trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by a tumor compressing the trigeminal nerve. In other cases, a cause cannot be found.

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

  • Shaving
  • Stroking your face
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Talking
  • Putting on makeup
  • Encountering a breeze
  • Smiling
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