Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The signs and symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include:

  • Slight twinges of pain
  • Pain in areas of the face that are served by the trigeminal nerve including the cheeks, jaw, teeth, mouth, eyes and forehead
  • Pain on one side of the face
  • Severe shooting pain akin a burning, exploding or crushing sensation or an electric shock
  • Waves of pain lasting for up to few seconds or even minutes
  • Episodes of multiple attacks over a period of time, sometimes extending up to months
  • Attacks that increase in both frequency and intensity

Some of the factors that can trigger an attack include:

  • Smiling
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Talking
  • Shaving
  • Yawning
  • Putting on makeup
  • Wind

The attacks usually affect only the side of the face that is served by the affected nerve. However, 10% - 12% of cases are bilateral, with both sides of the face being affected. This usually happens over a period of time, often years, as the pain spreads through the other nerve branches. This spread is suggestive of a systemic development like multiple sclerosis or a cranial tumor.

Trigeminal neuralgia sufferers rarely have pain attacks while sleeping. This may be despite the fact that a trigger point on the face may be in contact with a surface like a pillow. Why this happens is a mystery to medical professionals.

Frequently asked questions
  2. James K Liu, Ronald I Apfelbaum, Treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, Neurosurgery Clinics of North America, Volume 15, Issue 3, July 2004, Pages 319-334, ISSN 1042-3680, 10.1016/