Trigeminal Neuralgia | Overview

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What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia (say: “tri-jim-in-ul nyoor-al-juh”) is extreme burning, electric or shock-like pain in the face. The pain can be so extreme that it can get in the way of normal activity. Even the fear of oncoming attacks can be so stressful that performing day-to-day tasks is a challenge.

The pain may last a few seconds or minutes, then ease and then recur. Usually, these cycles of pain occur for a few days or weeks, and then stop for days, weeks or even years before returning. Over time, the cycles tend to recur more quickly, with shorter breaks in between.

The pain sometimes is triggered by very normal activities, such as chewing, smiling, talking, shaving or brushing your teeth. At times, even the wind on your face can cause pain to start.

Some people who have trigeminal neuralgia notice numbness or tingling of the face in the days leading up to an attack.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 05/14
Created: 08/09

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