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Trigeminal Neuralgia (tic Doloreaux)
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a disorder of unilateral (usually right-sided) facial pain. While the exact cause is unknown, it is thought that TN results from irritation of the trigeminal nerve. This irritation results from damage due either to changes in the blood vessels or the presence of a tumor or other lesions that cause compression of the nerve.
The first symptoms of TN most commonly occur in persons over the age of 50, and affect women more often than men.
The pain of TN is characterized by unilateral pain attacks that start abruptly and last for varying periods of time from minutes to hours. The pain quality is usually sharp, stabbing, lancinating (cutting or tearing), and burning. It may have an "electric shock"-like character. The attacks are initiated by stimuli such as light touch of the skin, chewing, washing the face, and brushing the teeth. In some individuals the attacks may be initiated by non-painful physical stimulation of specific areas (trigger points or zones) that are located on the same side of the face as the pain.
Medical treatment is often very effective in controlling pain symptoms. In fact, the anti-seizure drug carbamazepine is so effective initially that the lack of response often calls into question the accuracy of the diagnosis.
For persons with continued pain after medical therapy, surgical options may be considered. These procedures have variable risks but may be very effective.
Get the Facts... With your MediFocus Guide
The Medifocus Guide on Trigeminal Neuralgia provides answers to the following important questions and medical issues:
- What are the most common symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?
- Are there any recognized risk factors for developing trigeminal neuralgia?
- What kinds of medical tests are used to establish the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia?
- What is the current standard of care for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia?
- What treatment options are available for the management of trigeminal neuralgia?
- Are there any promising new developments or potential breakthroughs in treatment?
- Who are the most notable medical authorities who specialize in trigeminal neuralgia?
- Where are the leading hospitals and centers of research for trigeminal neuralgia?
- What are the most important questions to ask my doctor about trigeminal neuralgia?
What Your Doctor Reads:
This MediFocus Guide contains an extensive listing of citations and abstracts of recent journal articles that have been published about this condition in trustworthy medical journals. This is the same type of information that is available to physicians and other health care professionals. A partial selection of journal articles that are abstracted in this MediFocus Guide includes:
- Trigeminal neuralgia: opportunities for research and treatment.
- Acute and chronic craniofacial pain: brainstem mechanisms of nociceptive transmission and neuroplasticity, and their clinical correlates.
Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine. 2000
- On the natural history of trigeminal neuralgia.
- Trigeminal neuralgia: a diagnostic challenge.
American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 1999
- Medically unexplained chronic orofacial pain. Temporomandibular pain and dysfunction syndrome, orofacial phantom pain, burning mouth syndrome, and trigeminal neuralgia.
Medical Clinics of North America. 1999
- When is facial pain trigeminal neuralgia?.
Postgraduate Medicine. 1998
- Trigeminal neuralgia: mechanisms of treatment.
- Trigeminal neuralgia.
Primary Dental Care. 1997
- Atypical facial pain and other pain syndromes. Differential diagnosis and treatment.
Neurosurgery Clinics of North America. 1997
- Neuronal hamartoma of the trigeminal sensory root associated with trigeminal neuralgia.
Journal of Neurosurgery. 2000
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