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Facial neuralgia


Facial neuralgia is manifested by an acute pain of one or more areas of the face. The trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve that provides both the sensitivity of the face with three branches and also the motor muscles for chewing. Damage to this nerve may result in sensory disorders of the face. We can distinguish two types of face neuralgia: trigeminal neuralgia, which has no identified cause and appears mainly in women around the age of 50, and neuralgia that is secondary to other diseases, causing the compression or irritation of the nerve or one of its branches.


Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by the following symptoms:
  • pain in the face, spontaneous or triggered by chewing;
  • pain that affects only one side of the face;
  • pain that is as brutal as an electric shock;
  • these pains are focused on one part of the face, the area passing from the chin to the temple, the area between the mouth, nose and eyes, which is more frequent, or the area between the eyes and the top of the skull;
  • Generally, the pain occurs in cycles.

Trigeminal neuralgia that is secondary to another disorder has some variants, including the persistence of slight pain between crises. The three branches may be affected simultaneously.


A clinical examination is often enough to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia. Nevertheless, a number of additional tests will be done to find an identifiable cause for the nerve pain: a CT scan or MRI, and a blood test will often be required.


When a case is identified, quick treatment is essential. Drugs, often of the antiepileptic class of drugs, are typically used. Two other techniques are considered in case of severe discomfort despite drug treatments: surgery to decompress the nerve or percutaneous thermocoagulation.


Trigeminal neuralgia can usually not be prevented.