?Trigeminal neuralgia (TGN), also called Tic Douloureux (French for painful tic) is a disorder of the nervous system that presents as very severe one-sided facial or mouth pain. It is often described as shocking, electric-like stabs that persists for a few seconds at a time, either occurring spontaneously, or triggered by a light touch to the face, or by eating, talking, brushing your teeth, or even a light breeze blowing across your face. The pain of TGN comesfrom the fifth cranial nerve called the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensations from the structures of the head, face and the mouth, including the teeth, to the brain. The pain can affect part or all of these structures on one side of the face. The condition can afflict anyone starting as early as 40 years of age. In younger patients, a secondary cause, such as a tumor or multiple sclerosis (MS) may be implicated.
While TGN is usually not difficult to diagnose, it can be challenging and often confusing if a patient does not initially present with the common symptoms of stabbing pains. The pain may mimic an infected or a cracked tooth, or even feel like the dull aches of musculoskeletal jaw pain or TMJ disorder.
There are no specific lab tests to diagnose TGN, so a specialist in oral and craniofacial pains, or a neurologist will diagnose based on a thorough history, clinical presentation of the patient, neurological testing, and brain imaging.Treatment for TGNmay include medical management, brain surgery, gamma radiation, and will be based on the patient’s age, health status and stage of the disease.
Ali Makki, D.M.D. is an Orofacial Pain Specialist, located atHoag Neurosciences Institute, 3900 West Coast Hwy, Suite #330, Newport Beach, CA 92663. To schedule an appointment, call 949/706-5581.