Categories: Neurology

Trigeminal Neuralgia What is it?

A sudden severe facial pain with electric shock-like, stabbing quality that lasts from a fraction of seconds to minutes. It may be triggered by touching, talking, washing face, shaving, brushing teeth, chewing, swallowing, or wind blowing on the face.

Types of Trigeminal Neuralgia:

Classical Trigeminal Neuralgia: this is caused due to compression of blood vessels around the trigeminal nerve. There are no other causes.

Secondary Trigeminal Neuralgia: this is caused by underlying disease such as a tumor, an abnormal tangle of blood vessels connecting arteries and veins, or due to multiple sclerosis. Individuals may suffer from continuous or near-continuous pain.

Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia: all the tests reveal no significant abnormality.

Painful Trigeminal Neuropathy: facial pain in one or more branches of the trigeminal, which carries sensation from face to brain. The pain is usually continuous or near-continuous and is commonly characterized as burning, squeezing, or pins and needles. There is reduced sensation along the branches of the trigeminal and touching the area can be painful. Causes include herpes zoster, postherpetic neuralgia, post-traumatic, multiple sclerosis or tumor.


  • Neurological history and examination.
  • 3-t mr imaging of trigeminal nerves using 3d ciss sequences.
  • Electrophysiological tests: blink reflex and trigeminal somatosensory evoked potential


  • First line: Carbamazepine or oxcarbazepine.
  • Second line: Lamotrigine, baclofen, pregabalin, Gabapentin, topiramate, valproate.
  • Neuromodulation: Gasserian (trigeminal) ganglion stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, invasive motor cortex stimulation and non-invasive cortex stimulation, motor cortex transcranial direct-current stimulation (tdcs), repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rtms).
  • Surgical treatment: Microvascular decompression, gamma knife radiosurgery, percutaneous procedures on the gasserian ganglion, percutaneous glycerol rhizolysis, radiofrequency thermocoagulation, balloon compression.

Dr. Pravin Thomas | Consultant & Clinical Lead – Headache & Interventional Headache Neurology Services | Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center, Bommasandra, Bangalore

Narayana Health

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