The trigeminal nerve runs along your face and allows your face and eyes to feel sensations and deliver messages to your brain. Sometimes called tic douloureux, trigeminal neuropathy or neuralgia is inflammation of this nerve that causes severe pain.
In many cases, the exact cause of trigeminal neuropathy cannot be determined but is credited to aging, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Other possible causes of trigeminal neuropathy include multiple sclerosis, brain swelling or deformities in your blood vessels.
The most common symptom of trigeminal neuropathy is severe pain that feels like electricity or stabbing on one side of the face, around your eye, cheek or the lower part of your face. The pain often occurs while shaving, chewing, drinking, putting on makeup or brushing your teeth.
The pain from trigeminal neuropathy typically lasts from several seconds to a few minutes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is common to experience several attacks within days, weeks or months, followed by periods when you have no symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
When you experience trigeminal neuropathy, your doctor is likely to order an MRI to ensure that multiple sclerosis or another illness is not responsible for the condition.
Prescription drugs used to treat trigeminal neuropathy include epliepsy medications like phenytoin or carbamazepine, the migraine medicine sumatriptan or tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline. Surgical procedures may also be used to reduce inflammation or sever the trigeminal nerve in severe cases of neuropathy.