In trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, the trigeminal nerve's function is disrupted. Usually, the problem is contact between a normal blood vessel — in this case, an artery or a vein — and the trigeminal nerve at the base of your brain. This contact puts pressure on the nerve and causes it to malfunction.
Trigeminal neuralgia can occur as a result of aging, or it can be related to multiple sclerosis or a similar disorder that damages the myelin sheath protecting certain nerves. Less commonly, trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by a tumor compressing the trigeminal nerve.
Some people may experience trigeminal neuralgia due to a brain lesion or other abnormalities. In other cases, surgical injuries, stroke or facial trauma may be responsible for trigeminal neuralgia.
A variety of triggers may set off the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, including:
July 21, 2015
- Touching your face
- Brushing your teeth
- Putting on makeup
- Encountering a breeze
- Washing your face
- Longo DL, et al., eds. Trigeminal neuralgia, Bell's palsy, and other cranial nerve disorders. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed May 24, 2015.
- Trigeminal neuralgia fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/trigeminal_neuralgia/detail_trigeminal_neuralgia.htm. Accessed May 25, 2015.
- Bajwa ZH, et al. Trigeminal neuralgia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 24, 2015.
- Riggs EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 17, 2015.