Trigeminal Neuralgia - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?

Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include an acute onset of sharp, stabbing pain to one side of the face. It tends to begin at the angle of the jaw and radiate along the junction lines; between the ophthalmic branchV1 and maxillary branch V2, or the maxillary branch V2 and the mandibular branch V3.

The pain is severe and described as an electric shock. It may be made worse by light touch, chewing, or cold exposure in the mouth. In the midst of an attack, affected individuals shield their face trying to protect it from being touched. This is an important diagnostic sign because with many other pain syndromes like a toothache, the person will rub or hold the face to ease the pain.

While there may be only one attack of pain, the person may experience recurrent sharp pain every few hours or every few seconds. Between the attacks, the pain resolves completely and the the person has no symptoms. However, because of fear that the intense pain might return, people can be quite distraught. Trigeminal neuralgia tends not to occur when the person is asleep, and this differentiates it from migraines, which often waken the person.

After the first episode of attacks, the pain may subside for months or years but there is always the risk that trigeminal neuralgia will recur without warning.

Return to Trigeminal Neuralgia

See what others are saying

Comment from: Fisherman, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: February 18

My trigeminal neuralgia started 8 years ago. It started with a tickle in the right ear and then progressed to sharp pains in the face. I have been taking medication which has helped relieve the pain but now it seems to be losing its effect. I am thinking about surgery but the fix seems dangerous and extremely risky. The problem is I don't know where to go to find a surgeon with the experience to do this procedure.

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Comment from: Em, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 30

My trigeminal neuralgia symptoms started with a cough and two sneezes, progressing constantly to the point of gagging. I would literally wake up in the middle of night coughing to the point of vomiting. I was told I have MVD (microvascular decompression) with a blood vessel flush against my trigeminal nerve on the stem of the brain. I ended up in the hospital in critical care due to sodium dropping to 118. While in there I was given Tylenol 3 (cough suppressant) every 6 hours in March 2015. I have had no symptoms since being discharged on 3/15/15. This problem was affecting my larynx, causing hoarseness and fatigue.

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