Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the 5th cranial nerve, called the trigeminal nerve.  The disorder is not fatal however the intensity of the pain may be mentally and physically incapacitating.

Causes include

  • Blood vessels pressing on the trigeminal nerve
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Tumor
  • Arteriovenous Malformation
  • Injury to the trigeminal nerve (stroke, surgery or trauma)


Pain varies depending on the type and some people may experience both forms of pain.

Type 1 or TN1 (classic)

  • Sudden, server sporadic pain.
  • Pain may be triggered by vibration or contact with cheek such as when eating, washing face or from the wind
  • may effect a small area of the face or may spread
  • attacks often worsen over time and become more frequent

Type 2 or TN2 (atypical)

  • constant aching, burning stabbing pain


  • patient history, symptom review, physical and neurological exam
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)


Some people with Trigeminal neuralgia are able to control their symptoms with medication and do not require surgery.  Others however my require surgery.  Your neurosurgeon will discuss with you the best plan to treat your individual condition.

References: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke.


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