Trigeminal Neuralgia

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is an intermittent, lancinating face pain in one or more divisions of the trigeminal nerve. Characteristically, trigeminal neuralgia has an acute, memorable onset with periods of exacerbation and remission. Trigeminal neuralgia is often triggered by light touch, pressure or facial sensory stimulation. Typical exacerbating triggers described by patients include brushing the teeth, chewing, cold wind, shaving and talking. Pain management plays a large role in your treatment for this condition at Peachtree Neurosurgery.

Symptoms and Differences Among Patients

The trigeminal nerve — which emerges directly from the brain and runs through the sides of the face — is responsible for sensory data that includes pain, as well as the motor function of the muscles used for chewing. It has three major divisions: the ophthalmic nerve, which is the upper branch; the mandibular nerve, which is the lower branch; and the maxillary nerve, which is located between the two aforementioned branches. In a case of TN, one, two or all three divisions of the trigeminal nerve may be affected. In most cases, however, the disorder involves the middle and lower branches. People with trigeminal neuralgia experience sudden and severe episodes of pain, which can vary by any length of time. The pain can be best described as a stabbing or electric shock-like sensation. In some cases, the pain can be triggered by stimulation or touches to the face, which includes applying make-up, chewing, smiling, brushing the teeth or even wind. Sometimes trigeminal neuralgia occurs without even the slightest stimulation. Although trigeminal neuralgia usually occurs on one side of the face, about 10 to 12 percent of cases involve both sides of the face being affected.

Challenges of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The first line therapy of trigeminal neuralgia is pain management, and in fact, many patients achieve long term relief from medical management alone. At Peachtree Neurosurgery, however, we have several minimally invasive, surgical procedures if pain management alone is not enough.