Trigeminal neuralgia is an often excruciatingly painful syndrome involving a portion of one side of the face. The pain, which is usually paroxysmal (occurring in episodes) and profoundly disabling, may be triggered by speaking, chewing, or brushing teeth. This syndrome most frequently targets older populations, but can be occur at any age.
What are the causes?
In most cases, there are no identifying causes. It is thought that perhaps trauma or certain viruses may be involved.
What treatment options are available?
Recent onset of trigeminal neuralgia often responds favorably to steroid injection of the trigeminal nerve/ganglion.
Long-standing cases may be controlled by various medications such as anti-inflammatories, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and narcotics. For severe cases which linger over prolonged periods, destruction of the trigeminal nerve by radiofrequency lesioning is sometimes recommended. Rarely is surgical treatment of anything but short term value and is fraught with operation risks.