Trigeminal Neuralgia is a disorder associated with the Trigeminal nerve. It presents as a sudden onset severe shooting or burning facial pain that can occur spontaneously and may last for a few seconds or as consistent short bursts over a number of hours. The pain almost exclusively involves only one side of the face, more often the right-hand side.
The pain is often initiated by minor contact or muscle movement, and can even be stimulated by a gentle breeze on the skin. Suffers often report that they can go for long periods between attacks, sometimes weeks or even months.
The Trigeminal nerve splits into three sections, the first running above the eye and forehead, the second running along the cheek, side of the nose and teeth of the upper jaw, and the third which involves the lower jaw and teeth. Although Trigeminal Neuralgia can involve any of the three branches, it often affects the second and third branches.
Trigeminal neuralgia is thought to affect 8 in 100,000 people, and women appear to be more susceptible. Presentation often occurs in middle age, but in rare cases can begin in younger adults.
Further information on trigeminal neuralgia is available from Trigeminal Neuralgia Association UK.