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Trigeminal Neuralgia

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The Center for Facial Pain at AAMC treats trigeminal neuralgia and other facial pain with the most advanced minimally invasive techniques. Treatments for trigeminal neuralgia may include medications for pain relief, surgical procedures such a microvascular decompression, or noninvasive Novalis stereotactic radiosurgery.

Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, is characterized by unpredictable periodic episodes of stabbing pain on one side of the face. Trigeminal neuralgia results from damage to the trigeminal nerve, the largest nerve of the head and face.

Specialists in the areas of oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, and radiation oncology consult with neuroradiologists, psychiatrists, oral surgeons and pain management experts to provide multidisciplinary pain management and treatment for trigeminal neuralgia and facial pain.

What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a condition characterized by episodes of sudden, stabbing pain on one side of the jaw or cheek. The pain may last for several seconds and recur regularly throughout the day. Episodes may be triggered by such everyday activities as talking, feeling a breeze on the face, or chewing and swallowing.

TN is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head, which sends impulses to the brain from the face, jaw, forehead, and around the eyes. Pain occurs when the nerve root is compressed by blood vessels touching the brain stem. While contact or indenting of the nerve does not damage it, blood pulsing through the vessels may cause irritation. Over time, the root of the trigeminal nerve may receive abnormal impulses and become hyperactive, causing the spasms and pain of TN.

Pain from TN may be so severe that it can incapacitate the patient. People with TN may even avoid activity to prevent an attack. TN most often develops in people over 50 and incidents may be sporadic, lasting for days or weeks at a time and then disappearing for months or years.

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