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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. There are two trigeminal nerves, one on each side of the face. They are responsible for detecting

touch, pain, temperature and pressure sensations in areas of the face between the jaw and forehead.

The trigeminal nerve, which is divided into three branches, is responsible for chewing, for producing saliva and tears, and for sending facial sensations to the brain. When this nerve breaks down for some reason, it can trigger brief but agonizing sizzles of pain on one side of the face.

This condition is unusual in those under age 50 and more often occurs after 70. Women are three times more likely to have the condition than are men. When trigeminal neuralgia does occur in younger people, it is often associated with multiple sclerosis.

The pain, while brief, is so severe that the sufferer often can't do anything else while the attack lasts. People with this pain often wince or twitch, which is where trigeminal neuralgia gets its French nickname tic douloureux, meaning "painful twitch."

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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