What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of nerve pain that affects your face. You may feel an intense burst of pain in part of your face, usually one side of the jaw or cheek. The pain may be burning or sharp and so severe that you cannot eat or drink.

A flare-up begins with tingling or numbness in the area. Then, pain starts to come and go, often in bursts that last anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes. During a flare of the condition, these bursts of pain may become more and more frequent until the pain almost never stops.

Although the intensity of the pain can make it hard to get through your day, it is not life-threatening. This chronic pain condition can flare up for a few weeks or months. Then the pain disappears for a while, sometimes years.

It occurs most often in people over age 50, though younger people can also experience it. Trigeminal neuralgia is more common in women than men. The condition may run in families.

How is trigeminal neuralgia prevented?

Experts do not know how to prevent trigeminal neuralgia. You may learn to avoid certain activities that seem to trigger the pain more than others.

How is trigeminal neuralgia managed?

Although not fatal, the pain and anticipation of the pain can interfere with your life. Working closely with your doctor will help you find the best pain management approaches for you. Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and biofeedback have also been shown to help.

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