Facial Pain

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is an impairment of the nerve that controls sensation in the face. It usually results from one of the blood vessels at the base of the brain coming into contact with the trigeminal nerve. People with this condition often find that excruciating pain can follow mild stimuli, such as putting on makeup or simply touching the face.

Trigeminal neuralgia is relatively rare in young people. Most people who are affected are fifty or older, and women are affected more often than men. Sometimes seen as a normal part of aging, it can also be related to some medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, or to strokes or surgical injuries.



Symptoms range from mild to severe, and include the following:

  • Shooting pain in the face that feels like an electric shock, that can be triggered by seemingly mild stimuli
  • A burning or aching sensation in the face
  • Pain in areas fed by the trigeminal nerve, including the cheeks and mouth
  • Pain that affects either the left or right side of the face


What are the triggers?

Most cases of trigeminal neuralgia happen intermittently, with the individual experiencing extended episodes of intense pain interspersed with pain-free periods. Attacks can be triggered by a variety of things, including the following:

  • Touching the face
  • Eating and drinking
  • Shaving, brushing teeth and applying makeup
  • Talking, smiling and using a variety of facial expressions
  • Washing the face or applying face cream
  • The face coming into contact with wind or rain


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