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Trigeminal neuralgia is a nerve disorder that causes a stabbing or electric-shock-like pain in parts of the face.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The pain of trigeminal neuralgia comes from the trigeminal nerve. This nerve carries the feelings of touch and pain from the face, eyes, sinuses, and mouth to the brain.
The condition usually affects adults, but it may affect anyone at any age. Trigeminal neuralgia may be part of the normal aging process.
Trigeminal neuralgia may be caused by:
Often, no cause is found.
Doctors are more likely to find a cause in a person who is younger than age 40.
Signs and tests
A brain and nervous system (neurologic) examination is usually normal.
Tests that are done to look for the cause of the problem include:
Your primary care physician, a neurologist, or a pain specialist may be involved in your care.
Certain medicines sometimes help reduce pain and the rate of attacks. These medicines include:
Some patients may need surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve. Techniques include:
How well you do depends on the cause of the problem. If there is no disease causing the problem, treatment can provide at least some relief.
However, the pain may become constant and severe in some patients.
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Gronseth G, Cruccu G, Alksne J, Argoff C, Brainin M, Burchiel K, et al. Practice parameter: the diagnostic evaluation and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (an evidence-based review): report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the European Federation of Neurological Societies. Neurology. 2008;71:1183-1190.
Reviewed by:Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, and Department of Anatomy at UCSF, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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