To make an appointment with a Valley cancer specialist,
please call 201-634-5339.
Home Cancers Treated > Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Font ++ Click to Print

Applying makeup, shaving, washing your face—if you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, any of these ordinary everyday activities can trigger agonizing pain.

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia—also called tic douloureux—is a chronic condition that affects the largest nerve in the head, the fifth cranial or trigeminal nerve, which carries sensations from the face to the brain. This condition is most often triggered by compression of the trigeminal nerve by a normal blood vessel next to the brainstem. Tumors and multiple sclerosis are also possible culprits. In some rare cases, the cause of trigeminal neuralgia is unknown.

Who develops trigeminal neuralgia?

While just about anyone can develop trigeminal neuralgia at any time, it mainly affects women over age 50. Some evidence suggests it could run in families.

What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?

Common symptoms include:

  • extreme stabbing, lancinating or “electrical" pain, affect one side of the face, such as the area around the eye, cheek and lower portion of the face; pain lasts a few seconds or minutes and comes and goes, but usually becomes worse with time
  • pain triggered by touch, sounds or everyday activities, such as brushing your teeth, chewing, drinking and eating
  • tingling, a numb sensation, or constant aching pain before a new episode begins
  • avoidance of everyday activities because of fear of triggering another attack

How is trigeminal neuralgia diagnosed?

Trigeminal neuralgia can only be diagnosed by talking with an experienced physician about your symptoms. Unfortunately, there are no blood tests or images that can make the diagnosis. As a result, getting the correct diagnosis can be difficult. As a matter of fact, the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia is most often made by a dentist, neurologist, internist, or neurosurgeon.

How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?

Anti-seizure drugs, muscle relaxants or tricyclic antidepressants may be prescribed to relieve pain and lessen the number of attacks. At The Valley Hospital, our team can help determine if you might be a candidate for treatments beyond medication, such as surgery (Microvascular decompression) or Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

For more information about trigeminal neuralgia treatment or to set up a consultation, call The Gamma Knife Center Hospital at 201-634-5677 or complete the contact form. Learn more about the Valley Gamma Knife Center on our website.

News from The Daniel & Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center
The Valley Hospital Named one of America’s Best Breast Centers for Fifth Consecutive Year Fri, Oct 19, 2018

For a fifth consecutive year, The Valley Hospital has earned the Women’s Choice Award® as one of America’s Best Breast Centers, acknowledging its dedication to providing exceptional patient care and treatment. This recognition places Valley in the top 8 percent of U.S. hospitals offering breast care services.

Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care Welcomes Sharsheret Fri, Jun 22, 2018

As part of its commitment to being culturally sensitive to the needs of our patients and their families, members of Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care recently underwent Cultural Competency Training with June Mandeville-Kamins, LCSW, Senior Support Program Coordinator for Sharsheret.

View all
Contact the Blumenthal Cancer Center

Have a question? Call 201-634-5339 or complete the form below. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call your doctor or emergency services provider.

Retype the numbers below:
 Security code