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What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia (also called tic douloureux) is very painful condition affecting the trigeminal nerve, which delivers sensation to the face and surface of the eye. Trigeminal neuralgia typically causes severe, sharp facial pain on the side of the affected nerve.
What causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by a blood vessel pressing against the nerve, or by demyelination in patients with MS. Infrequently, it may be caused by a growth in the back of the skull. In some patients, no cause can be found.
What are typical symptoms?
Very painful, sharp, electric-like jolts of pain that last a few seconds or minutes. Pain is only on one side of the face, usually around the eye, cheek, lips, and lower part of the face. Pain may be triggered by:
• Brushing your teeth or hair
• Chewing, drinking, or eating
• Shaving, washing, or wind
What tests are used?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most common test used to help rule out other conditions.
What treatments are available?
Certain medication can help reduce trigeminal neuralgia pain and the rate of attacks. These include: antiepileptic drugs (carbamazepine or oxcarbazepine, gabapentin, phenytoin), migraine drugs (sumatriptan), tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, nortriptyline), or baclofen. When symptoms do not respond enough to medical therapy, surgery can help. Two surgical option currently available are: Percutanous Balloon Rhizotomy and Microvascular Decompression.