Trigeminal neuralgia is a serious and debilitating neuropathic disorder involving the trigeminal nerve, one of 12 pairs of cranial nerves.
The trigeminal, or 5th cranial nerve, has three branches that carry sensations from every part of the head and face to the brain. When this nerve is injured or compressed, or in persons with multiple sclerosis, attacks of extreme facial pain may occur in quick succession for periods ranging from two seconds to two minutes, repeating in sudden shocks of pain for up to two hours.
Atypically, people suffering with TGN experience chronic aching or burning pain that can occur separately or simultaneously with the more classic stabbing pain. Affecting small or larger areas of the face, TGN often starts from simple triggers such as talking, eating, teeth brushing or wind exposure.
The disorder is more common in women than men, appearing usually after age 50, and becomes progressively worse over time. Pain management medications may be effective in treating both types of TGN.