Trigeminal neuralgia impacts the trigeminal nerve that runs from the face to the brain, and is associated with a sharp, severe and sudden pain in the face.
Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia primarily include the sudden onset of an excruciating shooting pain in the face, which may be triggered by certain actions and can last anywhere from seconds to minutes. These triggers include movements that often involve the face, such as teeth brushing, kissing, and touching the face. The shooting pain is often followed by a dull ache or burning sensation in the face.
Most commonly, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by abnormal pressure applied by blood vessels to the region of the trigeminal nerve close to the brainstem. Rarer causes include tumours, cysts and multiple sclerosis.
Medication and pain relief, avoiding triggers, and surgery are all treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia. Carbamazepine is often prescribed as a treatment option, whilst percutaneous procedures and microvascular decompression are examples of surgical procedures that may be carried out.