Trigeminal Neuralgia 

You have trigeminal neuralgia. This is pain caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve on your face. Symptoms include sudden, sharp pain in your head or face. It may feel like an electric shock. It can last for several seconds or minutes. It often happens on only 1 side of your face. Pain may be triggered by things such as moving your jaw when brushing your teeth or eating. Or by a touch on the skin of your face. The pain may be caused by something irritating the trigeminal nerve, such as a blood vessel pressing against it. But the exact cause of this problem often isn’t known. It can be very painful. But the condition isn’t dangerous.

Trigeminal neuralgia is often treated with medicines. These include anti-seizure medicines or antidepressants. Certain other treatments may also help. In some cases, you may need surgery. For some people, radiation therapy is needed with a precise tool called gamma knife. This does not make any cuts (incisions). Some people have underlying health problems causing trigeminal neuralgia, such as multiple sclerosis. You may need an imaging test such as a CT scan or an MRI of the brain and skull. You will be advised if other health problems need treatment.

Home care

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines to help ease and prevent pain. Take all medicines as directed. Please note that it may take several changes in dose and medicines before the right combination is found that controls the pain.

General care:

  • Plan to rest at home today.

  • Don't do any specific activities that seem to trigger the pain.

  • Over the next few weeks, keep a pain diary. Write down when your symptoms happen and how they feel. Certain activities such as touching your face, chewing, talking, or brushing your teeth may bring on the pain. Cold air can also trigger the pain. Make sure you write down any triggers and discuss these with your provider. This will help guide treatment.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If you were referred to a neurologist, be sure to make an appointment.

For more information on your condition, visit:

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised by your provider

  • Headache with very stiff neck

  • You aren’t able to keep liquids down (repeated vomiting)

  • Extreme drowsiness or confusion

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • A new feeling of weakness or numbness or tingling in your arm, leg, or face

  • Trouble speaking or seeing

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