Trigeminal neuralgia is facial pain that can occur because of injury, infection or irritation of the trigeminal nerve that carries sensations such as pain, pressure and temperature to the brain.
In trigeminal neuralgia, the protective sheath that insulates the nerve is worn by pressure of a blood vessel, tumour, lesion or other abnormality, disrupting nerve functions. Ageing and neurological disorders can produce the condition.
Symptoms include sharp shooting pain, usually on one side of the jaw, lasting for several seconds. It can be triggered by touch, chewing or cold temperature. The pain can become more severe as the condition progresses over time. Muscle spasms are also common, so too are aching and burning sensations.
Diagnoses and Treatment Options
To diagnose trigeminal neuralgia, we will usually evaluate your medical history, signs and symptoms, and do a physical and neurological examination. We will also suggest diagnostic tests such as x-rays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to rule out a tumour or other causes for your pain.
Treatment can include various anticonvulsant, antispasmodic medications, botox or surgery.