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Trigeminal Neuralgia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Find a Solution to Manage Your Symptoms from the Experts at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic

Trigeminal neuralgia is a painful disorder that can affect any of these three nerve branches, though symptoms are generally localized to one side of the face. When symptoms are felt on both sides of the face, this is commonly known as bilateral trigeminal neuralgia.

Causes and Risk Factors

This condition is typically caused by a blood vessel pushing against your trigeminal nerve. Other causes and risk factors of trigeminal neuralgia may include:

  • Certain medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, a tumor or a tangle of arteries can trigger trigeminal neuralgia.
  • Trigeminal nerves can also be injured from surgery, accidents or stroke.
  • It is more common in women than in men and usually occurs in people over the age of 50.
  • It may be hereditary because of how blood vessels form in the brain.
  • There may also be a link to high blood pressure.


While trigeminal neuralgia is not life-threatening, the pain it causes can be debilitating and your condition can deteriorate over time. Common symptoms for this disorder may include:

  • Brief episodes of stabbing or shooting pain that may feel like an electric shock.
  • Pain that is triggered by simple actions such as eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, or even just touching your face.
  • A dull burning or achiness sensation followed by severe pain.
  • Painful episodes that last from seconds to minutes with periods of relief in-between.

An Anatomical Overview of Trigeminal Nerves

Your head is comprised of a series of cranial nerves and among this network is a pair of nerves known as trigeminal nerves. These nerves are responsible for letting you feel sensations in your face, with one of these nerves running down each side of your head. Each trigeminal nerve separates into three distinct branches that control feeling for different areas of the face. These three branches are:

  • The ophthalmic branch: Controls the upper portion of the face including the forehead, eye and upper eyelid.
  • The maxillary branch: Controls the middle portion of the face including the lower eyelids, cheek, nostril, upper lip and upper gums.
  • The mandibular branch: Controls the lower portion of the face including the lower lip, lower gums, jaw and some of the muscles used for chewing.

Treatment Options

There are several modern treatment options available to treat the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. If prescription pain medication and other traditional treatment methods have failed to provide relief for your symptoms, the following approaches may be recommended to help eliminate your pain:

  • Microvascular Decompression: Moves or removes blood vessels that are affecting the nerve.
  • Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: Radiation is delivered to the affected trigeminal nerve.
  • Rhizotomy: There are several different types of rhizotomies but generally the procedure involves a long needle that is inserted into the cheek on the affected side and a chemical or electrical impulse is administered to numb the pain receptors in the nerve.
  • Cortical brain stimulation: This is a good option for type II trigeminal neuralgia or atypical face pain.

If trigeminal neuralgia is eroding your quality of life, Dr. Lewis and the team at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic are here to help. It is essential to work alongside an experienced and compassionate neurosurgeon who specializes in treating this condition. Dr. Lewis has the necessary skills, tools and education to determine which therapeutic approach will best treat your case and has successfully worked with countless patients who have trigeminal neuralgia. Let us help you manage your symptoms so you can drastically improve your long-term health and well-being.

If you are seeking professional treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, we are here to help. Contact us today at (601) 366-1011 to make an appointment for a consultation. You can also request an appointment online. We’ll find a solution that works for you!