Of all of the pain conditions that chronic pain patients experience, there are arguably none worse than the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Often called the “suicide disease” because 25% of sufferers commit suicide, trigeminal neuralgia is pain that spreads over the face and down the neck, triggered by even the slightest breath of wind across the face. This condition is commonly misdiagnosed. It’s important to understand what it is, common symptoms, how it’s diagnosed, and trigeminal neuralgia treatment that may work.
What is trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is the general term for pain caused by the trigeminal nerve. It is also called TN pain or The trigeminal nerve begins just behind the ear on either side of the face and spreads across the cheeks, jaw, lips, and nose. There are three branches of this nerve – the upper, medial, and lower branches. Where the pain is located depends largely on which branch is affected. Rarely, sufferers experience pain on both sides of the face (this is called bilateral trigeminal neuralgia).
Trigeminal neuralgia may be diagnosed as migraine, which affects approximately 16% of people in the U.S.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons goes on to note that:
“It is reported that 150,000 people are diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia every year. While the disorder can occur at any age, it is most common in people over the age of 50.”