Trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the three branches of the trigeminal nerve in the face.

Overview

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the three branches of the trigeminal nerve in the face. The trigeminal nerve controls feeling in different parts of the face and the muscles used for chewing. The most common cause is compression, i.e. blood vessels pressing on the nerve, causing sudden, severe pain on one side of the face.

Symptoms

  • Pain attacks
    • Intermittent, sudden and severe pain
    • Burning, stabbing, electrifying pain
    • Usually one side of the face is affected
    • Duration: less than one second to two minutes
  • Facial twitching (tic douloureux)
  • Accompanying effects
    • Red face
    • Watery eyes
    • Increased salivation and runny nose
    • Dilated pupils

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Classic form: compression of the nerve by a blood vessel
  • Symptomatic form: nerve damage
  • Attack triggers: spontaneous or while chewing, talking, touching the face

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Neurological examination
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
Possible therapies
  • Treatment of the underlying disease
  • Medication (antispasmodic substances)
  • Surgery, if necessary
  • Radiation or subcutaneous nerve injection

What can I do myself?

  • Identify triggers and avoid them, if possible

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Swiss Neurological Society (Schweizerische Neurologische Gesellschaft)
www.swissneuro.ch

Synonyms

trigeminal neuralgia, tic douloureux

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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