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Definition of «Trigeminal neuralgia»

Trigeminal neuralgia: Also called tic douloureux. Inflammation of the trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve) that most commonly causes paroxysms of very intense lightning pain in the areas of the face the nerve supplies -- the lips, eye, nose, scalp, forehead, gums, cheek, and chin -- on the involved side of the face. A less common "atypical" form of the disease causes a more constant, dull, burning, or aching pain.

Onset is generally after age 50, but even children can be afflicted. Triggers for attacks can include touching the face, brushing the teeth, putting on makeup, and a soft breeze.

Medications that may be effective include anticonvulsants (such as Tegretol or Neurontin) and antidepressants. Neurosurgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the nerve or to reduce nerve sensitivity.

See also: Trigeminal nerve.

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