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Trigeminal Neuralgia Information Page
Synonym:
Tic Douloureux

Table of Contents
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Is there any treatment?
What is the prognosis?
What research is being done?
Organizations

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, is a condition that affects the trigeminal nerve (the 5th cranial nerve), one of the largest nerves in the head. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sending impulses of touch, pain, pressure, and temperature to the brain from the face, jaw, gums, forehead, and around the eyes. Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by a sudden, severe, electric shock-like or stabbing pain typically felt on one side of the jaw or cheek. The disorder is more common in women than in men and rarely affects anyone younger than 50. The attacks of pain, which generally last several seconds and may be repeated one after the other, may be triggered by talking, brushing teeth, touching the face, chewing, or swallowing. The attacks may come and go throughout the day and last for days, weeks, or months at a time, and then disappear for months or years.

Is there any treatment?
Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia typically includes anticonvulsant medications such as carbamazepine or phenytoin. Baclofen, clonazepam, gabapentin, and valproic acid may also be effective and may be used in combination to achieve pain relief. If medication fails to relieve pain, surgical treatment may be recommended.

What is the prognosis?
The disorder is characterized by recurrences and remissions, and successive recurrences may incapacitate the patient. Due to the intensity of the pain, even the fear of an impending attack may prevent activity. Trigeminal neuralgia is not fatal.

What research is being done?
Within the NINDS research programs, trigeminal neuralgia is addressed primarily through studies associated with pain research. NINDS vigorously pursues a research program seeking new treatments for pain and nerve damage with the ultimate goal of reversing debilitating conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia. NINDS has notified research investigators that it is seeking grant applications both in basic and clinical pain research.

Organizations

American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)
P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA   95677-0850
ACPA@pacbell.net
http://www.theacpa.org/
Tel: 916-632-0922 800-533-3231
Fax: 916-632-3208

International Radiosurgery Support Association (IRSA)
P.O. Box 5186
Harrisburg, PA   17110
getinfo@irsa.org
http://www.irsa.org/
Tel: 717-260-9808
Fax: 717-260-9809

Mayday Fund [For Pain Research]
c/o SPG
136 West 21st Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY   10011
mayday@maydayfund.org
http://www.painandhealth.org/
Tel: 212-366-6970
Fax: 212-366-6979

National Chronic Pain Outreach Association (NCPOA)
P.O. Box 274
Millboro, VA   24460
ncpoa@cfw.com
http://www.chronicpain.org/
Tel: 540-862-9437
Fax: 540-862-9485

National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain
P.O. Box 70045
Houston, TX   77270
markgordon@paincare.org
http://www.paincare.org/
Tel: 713-862-9332
Fax: 713-862-9346

Trigeminal Neuralgia Association
2801 SW Archer Road
Suite C
Gainesville, FL   32608
tnanational@tna-support.org
http://www.tna-support.org/
Tel: 352-376-9955
Fax: 352-376-8688

Prepared by:
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

Last updated December 03, 2004

   
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