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Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal Neuralgia

What is trigeminal neuralgia? — Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a condition that causes sudden and severe pain in parts of the face.
TN is caused by a problem with the trigeminal nerve, which is a nerve that runs from the brain to the face.
What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia? — TN causes attacks of sharp and stabbing pain in the cheek, lower face, or around the eye. The pain lasts a few seconds to a few minutes, and usually happens on only one side of the face. The attacks can happen over and over again.
Often, certain movements or activities make the pain attacks happen. These can include:
Touching the face
Brushing the teeth
Smiling or frowning
Cold air on the face
TN can also cause muscle spasms in the face, along with pain.
Will I need tests? — Maybe. Your doctor or nurse should be able to tell if you have TN by learning about your symptoms and doing an exam.
They might do tests to get more information about your TN or what's causing it. These tests can include an MRI or CT scan of your brain. These are imaging tests that can create pictures of your brain.
How is trigeminal neuralgia treated? — TN is usually treated with medicine. Doctors can use different types of medicines to treat TN. Most often doctors prescribe a type of medicine normally used to prevent seizures. The one used most often to treat TN is called carbamazepine (sample brand names: Carbatrol, Tegretol). There are several others, too. These medicines quiet the nerve signals that cause pain in TN.
For most people, the medicine helps reduce the number of TN attacks they have and makes their pain less severe. But if medicines don't help enough or cause too many side effects, your doctor might talk with you about other treatment options. These include different types of surgical procedures that quiet the nerve and make it less likely to fire. These surgical treatments might help with symptoms, but side effects sometimes happen, including numbness or pain in the face.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 16844 Version 6.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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