Trigeminal Neuralgia

Also known as: Tic Douloureux, Trifacial Neuralgia, Fothergill Disease, Facial Pain

Providence Cranial Services offers some of the most advanced brain treatments in the Pacific Northwest. Our exceptional team of neurologists and neurosurgeons works closely with experts from oncology, radiation oncology, neuroradiology, pathology, endocrinology, ear, nose and throat medicine, nursing and rehabilitation to help each patient achieve the best results possible.

Side view of head showing skull and trigeminal nerve.

You have trigeminal neuralgia. This is pain caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve on your face. Symptoms include sudden, sharp pain in your head or face. It may feel like an electric shock. It can last for several seconds or minutes. It usually happens on only 1 side of your face. Pain may be triggered by things like moving your jaw or a touch on the skin of your face. The pain may be caused by something irritating the trigeminal nerve, such as a blood vessel pressing against it. But the exact cause of this problem often isn’t known. Although it can be quite painful, the condition isn’t dangerous.

Trigeminal neuralgia is often treated with medicines. These include anti-seizure medicines or antidepressants. Certain other treatments may also help. In some cases, you may need surgery.

Home care

Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines to help relieve and prevent pain. Take all medicines as directed. Please note that it may take several changes in dose and medicines before the right combination is found that controls the pain.

General care:

  • Plan to rest at home today.

  • Avoid any specific activities that seem to trigger the pain.

  • Over the next few weeks, keep a pain diary. Write down when your symptoms happen and how they feel. Certain activities such as touching your face, chewing, talking, or brushing your teeth may bring on the pain. Cold air can also trigger the pain. Make sure you write down any triggers and discuss these with your healthcare provider. This will help guide treatment.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If you were referred to a neurologist, be sure to make an appointment.

For more information on your condition, visit:

  • Facial Pain Association

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as advised

  • Headache with very stiff neck

  • You aren’t able to keep liquids down (repeated vomiting)

  • Extreme drowsiness or confusion

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • A new feeling of weakness or numbness or tingling in your arm, leg, or face

  • Difficulty speaking or seeing