Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), also known as tic douloureux,
is an acute, piercing, electric shock-like pain in the those regions of
the face served by the Trigeminal (5th) Cranial
Nerve (CN V). CN V serves three areas of the face the forehead and
eye, the cheek and the jaw. TN can affect some or all of these areas usually
on one side of the face although more rarely (in about 5% of cases) it
is bilateral. Episodes of TN can last anything from a few seconds to a
few minutes or very occasionally longer and can be triggered by a number
of factors including laughing, chewing, brushing the teeth, talking, wind
on the face or even touching the face.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is not an uncommon symptom of multiple
sclerosis although there are a number of other causes. In MS, TN is often
accompanied by feelings of numbness or paraesthesia.
In multiple sclerosis, the most likely cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia is
lesion damage to the Pons region of the Brainstem
where the 5th cranial nerve arises.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is one of the more painful conditions
to have to live with and can eat into the fibre of your soul. It is often
chronic and, not surprisingly, often associated with depression. Some suggestions
by people coping with TN include:
Some people with TN report beneficial effects from alterative
therapies including acupuncture, chiropractic adjustment, self-hypnosis
Keeping a diary to try and identify common trigger factors.
Exercising regularly to promote the release of pain-killing
Staying busy so as not to concentrate on the pain, waiting
for the next attack.
Seeking support especially from other people living with
Trying to maintain a sense of humour to preserve your mental
Drug treatments of Trigeminal Neuralgia include Carbamazepine
(Tegretol), Phenytoin (Dilantin), Baclofen
(Lioresal), Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), Clonazepam
(Klonopin), lamotrig-ine (Lamictal) and Neurontin.
Microsurgical methods to relieve pressure on the nerve
or to reduce nerve sensitivity have been quite successful.
Trigeminal Neuralgia links:
Neuralgia Resources: Trigeminal Neuralgia
Neuralgia: University of Pittsburgh
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