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.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: lk, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: March 18

I had my first symptoms 16 years ago, I thought it was a toothache. After a root canal didn"t help, I was referred to a neurologist and diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. After reactions to many drugs, and at the point where I was losing weight because I couldn"t eat because of the pain, finally I could tolerate the drug Neurontin, and after almost a year of pain I got relief. My pain was constant and I was told the cure was brain surgery. I was pain free for fourteen years; recently I am experiencing on and off pain, and I am actually scared I will have to go through this again. I hope it will go away.

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Comment from: David, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 02

My trigeminal neuralgia (TN) started about three years ago and after going through tests and constant visits to the dentist, a new primary care physician recognized the pain as TN. I already take Tegretol so we tried other drugs. What confuses me is that I have no symptoms and no pain most of the year. Suddenly every April, I start to have horrible TN episodes, as many as several times a day. Just as suddenly, they stop in July. No one can explain this so I just live through it.

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