What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

trigeminal nerve painTrigeminal neuralgia also known as tic douloureux, sometimes is described as the most excruciating pain known to humanity. The pain typically involves the lower face and jaw, although sometimes it affects the area around the nose and above the eye. This intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain is caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which sends branches to the forehead, cheek and lower jaw. It usually is limited to one side of the face

Source: The American Association of Neurological Surgeons

Do I have Trigeminal Neuralgia? What are the symptoms?

Typical symptoms are pain in the face, starting with the upper jaw. Patients often report this happening suddenly with no specific reason, or after an acute accident, such as a car accident or dentistry work. However, it should be noted that there is not much empirical evidence to support the correlation between dental work and trigeminal neuralgia.

There are considered to be two types:

Trigeminal Neuralgia Type I

Symptoms are acute attacks and sensitivity to touch. This can include from brushing your teeth, touching your face, or even from talking. Some patients experience many attacks throughout the day, whereas others experience attacks more rarely. The condition may come and go.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Type II

This type is more chronic (constant) and can feel like a burning pain. Because it is more constant, attacks are less acute and remission is less likely. This type is less common, may affect larger areas of the face, and is considered more difficult to treat.

Do I have Trigeminal Neuralgia? How can it be diagnosed?

In order to diagnose the cause of your condition, the doctor can request an MRI. The MRI scan may reveal what is putting pressure on the trigeminal nerve, such as a vein, artery or tumor.


What causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Put simply, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by pressure on the trigeminal nerve. The source of this pressure is usually contact with a vein or artery, however may also be caused by other factors, such as a tumor or indirectly via multiple sclerosis.

Some patients report that acute trauma (e.g. car accidents or dental surgery) preceded the condition. However, others report that the pain started for no apparent reason.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment – How is Trigeminal Neuralgia treated?

There are two main approaches to treating trigeminal neuralgia:

Non-surgical treatment options

Medications are one of the most common treatment options. These include:

  • Carbamazapine
  • Baclofen
  • Phenytoin
  • Oxcarbazapine

The exact medication recommended will depend on your specific circumstances, so be sure to consult with a physician and never try to self-source your medication.

Surgical treatment options

A more interventional approach is to consider surgery. The aim of the surgery is to reduce the pressure on the trigeminal nerve. There are two main procedures. The first is open cranial surgery. This operation aims to remove the cause of the pressure on the nerve. The second option is lesioning, which aims to literally ‘burn’ away the part of the nerve which is affected.

Additional FAQs

Below is a list of other Frequently Asked Questions about Trageminal Neuralgia.

Where does Trigeminal Neuralgia hurt?

Type I cases usually start with pain to the upper jaw. It can often be mistaken for a dental pain, however the source of the pain is not coming from dental nerves, but rather the trigeminal nerve. For type II cases, the pain can extend to other areas of the face.

Who treats Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is treated by Interventional Pain Management doctors, such as Dr. Alsabbagh. It is also often treated by other types of physician, including maxillofacial surgeons, neurosurgeons, and neurologists.

Will  Trigeminal Neuralgia go away?

Trigeminal neuralgia frequently “comes and goes”, especially the most common type I version of the condition. However, the condition itself will only permanently disappear when the root cause of it (the pressure on the trigeminal nerve) is removed. This may sometimes happen naturally, or it can be done through treatment.

Is Trigeminal Neuralgia hereditary?

Yes, it is believed that there are certain genes which predispose someone to the condition. Source: http://fpa-support.org/genetics-study-by-the-facial-pain-research-foundation/

Can Trigeminal Neuralgia be cured?

Yes, if the pressure on the trigeminal nerve can be removed, then the pain will stop. Please see the treatment options above for specifics.

Can Trigeminal Neuralgia be caused by dental work?

There are mixed opinions about this. Despite many patients claiming that symptoms started following dental work, there remains no empirical evidence to support this. It is perhaps more likely that the symptoms already existed, but became more noticeable following dental work.

Can Trigeminal Neuralgia cause tinnitus?

Yes, many patients report experiencing tinnitus. It does not occur with all patients and certain patient demographics and circumstances may increase the probability of also suffering from tinnitus.

Can Trigeminal Neuralgia cause dizziness or vertigo?

Yes, many patients report experiencing dizziness and/or vertigo. However, it should also be noted that some of the medications prescribed may cause similar side effects, so it is important to identify the correct cause of your dizziness and/or vertigo.

Can Trigeminal Neuralgia cause facial swelling?

Yes, some patients do suffer from facial swelling, however this is more likely for type II.

How rare is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

It is a very rare condition, affecting only 1in 10,000 people.

When to see a doctor?

If you are experiencing pain in your upper jaw, or face, then it is recommended that you see a doctor. An Interventional Pain Management Doctor, such as Dr. Alsabbagh, will be able to diagnose your condition to ascertain if you do (or do not) have trigeminal neuralgia.

Is Trigeminal Neuralgia permanent?

Not always. It can often be treated and cured. However, for some patients (in particular for type II) it can remain with them for the duration of their life.

Is Trigeminal Neuralgia fatal?

No, the condition is not fatal.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment in Brooksville, FL – About Dr. Alsabbagh

Dr. Alsabbagh is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of trageminal neuralgia. He will evaluate your specific condition and circumstances and then prescribe the most appropriate treatment option for you. To Schedule an Appointment, please Contact Us.