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What is trigeminal neuralgia?

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Quick Answer

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic condition that causes extreme pain from mild stimulation of the face, states Mayo Clinic. The condition affects the trigeminal nerve, which transports sensation from the face to the brain. Although trigeminal neuralgia is chronic, medical treatments effectively control its symptoms.

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What is trigeminal neuralgia?
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Full Answer

Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include pain affecting one side of the face, twinges of mild pain, brief episodes of pain, pain centered in one area or spread in a wider range, pain attacks increasing in frequency, and sudden pain caused by chewing, speaking, touching the face and brushing the teeth, explains Mayo Clinic. People experiencing these symptoms should consult a doctor if prolonged or recurring facial pain is not relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers. Trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed by the description of pain, a neurological examination and/or an MRI scan.

Treatments for trigeminal neuralgia include medication and surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. Anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine, gabapentin and clonazepam are typically effective for this condition. Antispasmodic agents, or muscle relaxers, are used alone or in combination with carbamazepine. Surgical procedures such as microvascular decompression and Gamma Knife radiosurgery may be used to alter the trigeminal nerve or to prohibit the blood vessel from pressing onto the trigeminal nerve.

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