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What're the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia causes episodes of sudden, intense facial pain that usually last for two minutes or less. In most cases, the pain is described as excruciating, and its quality is "sharp," "stabbing," "piercing," "burning," "like lightning" or "like an electric shock." In most cases, only one side of the face is affected. The first episodes are usually fairly mild and brief, and it may be minutes, hours, or weeks before the next attack. However, attacks tend to occur in clumps that may last for weeks at a time. As the sufferer ages, the episodes become more frequent and painful, until the person begins to live

in constant fear of the next one.

The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is recognized as one of the most excruciating forms of pain known. The pain often is triggered by nonpainful facial movements or stimuli, such as talking, eating, washing the face, brushing the teeth, shaving or touching the face lightly. In some cases, even a gentle breeze on the cheek is enough to trigger an attack. Approximately 50 percent of patients also have specific trigger points or zones on the face, usually located somewhere between the lips and nose, where an episode of trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by a touch or a temperature change. In some cases, a sensation of tingling or numbness comes before the pain.

Attacks of trigeminal neuralgia can vary significantly, and may occur in clusters, with several episodes following in series over the course of a day. For unknown reasons, trigeminal neuralgia almost never occurs at night when the person is sleeping. In addition to pain, some patients simultaneously have a cheek twitch or muscle spasm, wincing, a facial flush, a tearing eye or salivation on the same side of the face. It is the facial muscle spasms that led to the older term, tic douloureux (in French, tic means muscle twitch or spasm; douloureux means painful).

More information on trigeminal neuralgia

What is trigeminal neuralgia? - Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, is a painful disorder of a nerve in the face called the trigeminal nerve or fifth cranial nerve.
What causes trigeminal neuralgia? - Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by damage to the trigeminal nerve. The origin of trigeminal neuralgia may be caused by degeneration, pressure, or irritation of the trigeminal nerve.
What're the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia? - Trigeminal neuralgia causes episodes of sudden, intense facial pain that usually last for two minutes or less.
How is trigeminal neuralgia diagnosed? - Diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia is usually made by eliminating other problems that could cause similar pain in teeth, jaw, head, or sinuses.
What's the treatment for trigeminal neuralgia? - The first treatment for trigeminal neuralgia usually is carbamazepine. Surgical treatment to block pain signals from the nerve may be effective.
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