Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is an extremely painful inflammation of the trigeminal nerve which causes severe lightning-like facial pain and spasm of the facial muscles on the involved side.

These painful attacks may occur after lightly touching different skin areas of the face, along the course of this cranial nerve. Specific medications can be very effective in reducing the rate of attacks, but surgical intervention may be necessary.

Causes

The causes of neuralgias are varied. Chemicals can cause nerve irritation. Inflammation, trauma (including surgery), compression by adjacent structures (tumors or inflamed tissues) and infections can all lead to neuralgias. In many cases, however, the cause is unknown or unidentifiable.

Neuralgias are most common in elderly persons, but they can occur at any age.

Trigeminal neuralgia is the most common form of neuralgia. It affects the main sensory nerve of the face, the trigeminal nerve. "Trigeminal" literally means "3 origins," referring to the division of the nerve into 3 branches. This condition involves sudden and short attacks of severe pain on 1 side of the face, along 1 of the areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve. The pain attacks may be severe enough to cause a facial grimace, which is classically referred to as a painful tic (tic douloureux).

The cause of trigeminal neuralgia is occasionally a blood vessel or small tumor pressing on the nerve. Disorders such as multiple sclerosis (an inflammatory disease affecting the brain and spinal cord), certain forms of arthritis and diabetes (high blood sugar) can also cause trigeminal neuralgia, but most commonly a cause is not identified.

Treatments

Neurosurgeon Dr. Adrian Laxton has special expertise in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. Our neurosurgery group offers all of the latest state-of-the-art procedures available to help alleviate the pain associated with this condition. Treatments include microsurgery, Gamma Knife, procedures in the Angiogram suite, and percutanious rhizatomy.   

Quick Reference

Neurology and Neurosurgery
New Patient Appointments

888-716-WAKE
888-716-9253

Returning Patient Appointments

Neurology Services
336-716-4101
Neurosurgery Services
336-716-4081

Find a Doctor Ways to Give
Last Updated: 05-07-2014
USNWR 2013-2014Magnet Hospital RecognitionConsumer Choice2014 Best DoctorsJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.