Trigeminal Neuralgia (tic douloureux) is a painful neurological condition that many people often claim is a curse, due to the pain associated with it. It is a rare condition and it is mostly found in people over 50 years of age, even though people in other age groups can be affected by it. Women have a higher chance of getting the condition and this is 1.5 more times likely, compared to men. The Trigeminal Neuralgia Association has stated that 5% of patients who suffer from this condition also have a family history of it.
The pain associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia can be debilitating as the pain is so severe. The symptoms associated with the disorder are severe facial pain, which affects one side of the face. The pain is a result of an artery or blood vessel pressing down on the trigeminal nerve located at the base of the brain. Generally the pain from the condition, usually affects the lower parts of the face such as the jaw. The pain is often described as a sharp, acute pain that is almost similar to electric shocks.
Aside from the blood vessels pressing down on the Trigeminal Neuralgia, damage to the nerve can also because by injuries to the face, surgical or dental procedures. However in many of the patients who suffer from this condition, there is no outright cause.
The trigeminal nerve is possible for the different sensations that are felt in the face. This nerve has been acknowledged as one of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves. As it relates specifically to the Trigeminal Neuralgia, it splits; one goes to the left side of the head, while the other goes to the right side of the head. From the left and the right nerve, it then divides up into three separate branches. All of the branches control different feelings and sensations in the face. The first branch is responsible for the different feelings into forehead, eye and nose. The second branch is responsible for the lips, sides of the nose, cheeks, gums and upper teeth. The third branch controls the sensations associated with the lip, gum and jaw.
The onset of pain associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia can often be triggered by simple actions such as eating, brushing the teeth, applying makeup, shaving, sneezing, drinking cold or hot beverages and even a light wind. Most people who suffer from the condition often state that the pain just appeared out of nowhere one day.
There are two types of pain that are associated with this condition. These pains have been identified as either “classical” or “atypical”. Generally with classic pain, the patient will have periods where they feel no pain, however when the pain comes it will be intense and severe and often feel like electrical shocks. Atypical pain is also severe and intense and the patient experienced the stabbing pain, as well as it having a burning or pulsating feel to it. Atypical sufferers do not have their pain periods where their pain goes away.