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Trigeminal neuralgia—commonly called tic douloureux or just tic—is a chronic pain condition that affects the facial nerves. trigeminal neuralgia pain is caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve, which carries signals from the face to the brain. This pain most frequently involves the lower lip and teeth or the upper lip and cheek, but it also may involve the nose and the area above the eye.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Symptoms:
The pain in trigeminal neuralgia is caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve at the brainstem by an artery or vein. Patients with trigeminal neuralgia experience facial pain that can be triggered by even mild sensations, like brushing teeth. The pain from trigeminal neuralgia may be mild and come and go, or it may progress and be a consistent, severe sensation in the face. Pain sensations are usually described by patients as:
- Constant aching pain in the face
- Burning pain that may evolve into a severe spasm
- Severe and sudden stabbing or shooting pains
- Feelings of jabbing pain, like an electric shock
Women are more likely to have trigeminal neuralgia than men, and those over 50 typically experience more trigeminal nerve pain. Trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed based on patient history and physical exam, which includes medical imaging like MRI to rule out other conditions.