DefinitionTrigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve 5) that causes severe, shooting pain along one side of the face. The trigeminal nerve senses touch, pain, pressure, and temperature. It also helps make saliva and tears.
|The Trigeminal Nerve|
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CausesIn most cases, the cause is unknown. In some cases, it may be caused by an abnormally formed artery or vein near the nerve. The blood vessel can compress the nerve and cause problems. Rarely, TN may occur as a symptom of another underlying disorder, such as:
Risk FactorsTN is more common in women aged 50 years or older. Having certain medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or high blood pressure may increase your risk of TN.
SymptomsThe main symptom is searing pain on one side of the face. The pain may be felt inside the mouth or in the lips, cheek, chin, nostril, ear, or near the eye. Rarely, pain may occur in the eye or forehead. Twitching or wincing sometimes accompanies the pain.The pain is typically sudden, severe, and stabbing. Even though the pain is brief, usually less than two minutes, it can reoccur hundreds of times a day. Attacks can become totally disabling. They may seem to occur at random or be triggered by extremes of temperature, washing, shaving, touching, or tickling the face. There are usually no symptoms between attacks, except perhaps a dull ache.
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