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Alternative Names Return to topTic douloureux
Definition Return to top
Trigeminal neuralgia is very painful swelling (inflammation) of the nerve (trigeminal nerve) that delivers feeling to the face and "surface" of the eye.
Causes Return to top
Trigeminal neuralgia causes severe, short-lasting (only a few seconds) facial pain on the side of the affected nerve. The condition usually affects older adults.
Often, no cause can be found. However, areas of brain swelling or abnormal blood vessels (arteriovenous malformations) can cause it.
Painful trigeminal neuralgia attacks may occur after lightly touching areas of the face that are along the fifth skull (cranial) nerve.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and blood tests may help rule out other conditions.
Treatment Return to top
Certain medicines can help reduce pain and the rate of attacks. These may include:
Some patients may need surgery.
References Return to top
Kanai A, Saito M, Hoka S. Subcutaneous sumatriptan for refractory trigeminal neuralgia. Headache. 2006;46(4):577-582.
Goetz CG, ed. Textbook of Clinical Neurology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2007.Update Date: 2/13/2008 Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Departments of Anatomy & Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.