II. Epidemiology

  1. Incidence: 15,000 new cases per year in U.S. (3.4 women or 5.9 men per 100,000 per year)
    1. Incidence in UK as high as 26.8 per 100,000, and 12.6 per 100,000 in Netherlands (but criteria vary)
    2. Primary care physicians may see a few cases during their entire practice career
    3. Incidence in Multiple Sclerosis patients: 1-2%
  2. Onset after age 40 years (peaks at age 60 to 70 years)
    1. Incidence increases to 45.2 per 100,000 in men over age 80 years old
  3. More common in women by ratio of 2:1

III. Risk Factors

IV. Pathophysiology

  1. Related to Trigeminal Nerve demyelination
    1. Demyelination due to compression from local structures (esp. Superior Cerebellar Artery)
    2. Demyelinated fibers are more prone to ephaptic conduction
      1. Light touch impulses transmit to nearby pain fibers
  2. Most common site at cerebellopontine nerve root area
  3. Effects all branches of the Trigeminal Nerve (Right side is more commonly involved)
    1. Maxillary branch is most commonly involved
    2. Ophthalmic branch is least commonly involved

V. Symptoms

  1. Facial pain in Trigeminal Nerve distribution
    1. Recurrent paroxysms of sharp, stabbing or lancinating pain
  2. Distribution
    1. Maxillary and mandibular branches of the Trigeminal Nerve (CN 5) are most commonly affected
    2. Each attack is unilateral (may alternate sides in up to 3-5% of cases)
  3. Characteristics
    1. Lancinating or stabbing pain that is severe and intense
    2. Electric shock type pain
    3. Facial spasms related to paroxysms of pain (Tic Douloureux)
  4. Timing
    1. Each attack lasts for seconds to minutes
    2. Attacks may occur as often as multiple times daily (as many as 100/day) or as infrequently as monthly
    3. Attacks become more frequent and severe over time (and more refractory to medication)
    4. Attacks are rare during sleep
    5. Remissions of more than 6 months occur in 50% of patients
  5. Triggers
    1. Washing face
    2. Tooth Brushing
    3. Cold exposure
    4. Chewing
    5. Trigger Zones (pathognomonic for Trigeminal Neuralgia)
      1. Small areas in the region of the nose and mouth
      2. Light touch or other minimal stimulation in these zones triggers an attack

VI. History: Red Flags suggesting secondary cause or alternative diagnosis

  1. Abnormal findings on Neurologic Examination or on examination of head and neck
  2. Age under 40 years old
  3. Pain lasts longer than 2 minutes
  4. Bilateral pain during a single attack
  5. Vision change, hearing change or Vertigo
  6. Findings suggestive of Multiple Sclerosis (e.g. Ataxia, unilateral vision change)
    1. Multiple Sclerosis is often comorbid with Trigeminal Neuralgia

VII. Examination

  1. Evaluate for focal findings suggestive of a secondary cause or alternative diagnosis
  2. Specific focal areas of examination (abnormalities suggest alternative diagnosis)
    1. Temporomandibular Joint
    2. Facial Muscle Strength and symmetry
    3. Corneal Reflex
    4. Trigeminal Nerve sensation (normal in Trigeminal Neuralgia)
      1. Trigger Zone presence is pathognomonic for Trigeminal Neuralgia (see above)

VIII. Diagnosis: Classical Trigeminal Neuralgia (Primary Trigeminal Neuralgia)

  1. Paroxysmal attacks localized to the Trigeminal Nerve
  2. Duration less than 2 minutes
  3. Characteristics (at least one must be present)
    1. Precipitated by triggers (e.g. Trigger Zones)
    2. Sharp, stabbing, intense pain
  4. Attacks are stereotypical for individual patients
  5. No neurologic clinical findings or other findings suggesting as secondary condition

IX. Diagnosis: Atypical or Symptomatic Trigeminal Neuralgia (Type II or Trigeminal Neuralgia with concomitant pain)

  1. May be secondary to other conditions (consider secondary cause evaluation)
  2. Similar to classical Trigeminal Neuralgia with the following EXCEPTIONS
    1. Aching, lower level pain may persist between episodes for up to 50% of the time

X. Differential Diagnosis

XI. Imaging

  1. Head MRI Indications
    1. Indicated in most cases of Trigeminal Neuralgia at onset

XII. Diagnostics

  1. Trigeminal reflex testing (via EMG testing)
    1. Differentiates classic from symptomatic Trigeminal Neuralgia with high efficacy
    2. Cruccu (2006) Neurology 66:139-41 [PubMed]

XIII. Management: Seizure medications (examples)

  1. Carbamazepine (Most studied)
    1. Typical effective dosage: 200-800 mg/day divided 2-3 times daily
    2. Longterm failure rate approches 50% after 5-10 years of continuous use
  2. Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
    1. Effective for pain reduction and fewer side effects than Carbamazepine, but less effective in the longterm
  3. Baclofen (Lioresal)
    1. Typical effective doses: 10-80 mg/day
    2. Consider in Multiple Sclerosis patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia
  4. Agents with unknown effectiveness (inadequate studies as of 2016)
    1. Phenytoin (Dilantin)
    2. Gabapentin (Neurontin)
    3. Topiramate (Topamax)
    4. Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  5. References
    1. Delzell (1999) Arch Fam Med 8(3): 264-8 [PubMed]

XIV. Management: Symptomatic therapies

  1. Topical Capsaicin
  2. Intranasal Lidocaine (for second Trigeminal Nerve branch)
  3. Acupuncture is ineffective in Trigeminal Neuralgia
    1. Millan-Guerrero (2006) Headache 46(3): 532 [PubMed]

XV. Management: Surgical

  1. Percutaneous Methods (non-invasive but short lasting)
    1. Glycerol injection
    2. Gamma Knife
    3. Radiofrequency thermocoagulation
      1. Effective, but risk of facial numbness and Corneal insensitivity
    4. Oturai (1996) Clin J Pain 12(4):311-5 [PubMed]
  2. Invasive Surgical Techniques (posterior fossa exploration)
    1. Microvascular decompression (Most effective, duration of 10 years in 70% of cases)
    2. Preferred over sterotactic radiosurgery
    3. Risk of unilateral Hearing Loss in 5% of cases
    4. Hai (2006) Neurol India 54(1):53-6 [PubMed]
    5. Tronnier (2001) Neurosurgery 48(6): 1261-8 [PubMed]

XVI. Complications

  1. Major Depression and Suicidality (due to severity of pain and incapacity)

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Ontology: Trigeminal Neuralgia (C0040997)

Definition (MSH) A syndrome characterized by recurrent episodes of excruciating pain lasting several seconds or longer in the sensory distribution of the TRIGEMINAL NERVE. Pain may be initiated by stimulation of trigger points on the face, lips, or gums or by movement of facial muscles or chewing. Associated conditions include MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, vascular anomalies, ANEURYSMS, and neoplasms. (Adams et al., Principles of Neurology, 6th ed, p187)
Definition (MEDLINEPLUS)

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a type of chronic pain that affects your face. It causes extreme, sudden burning or shock-like pain. It usually affects one side of the face. Any vibration on your face, even from talking, can set it off. The condition may come and go, disappearing for days or even months. But the longer you have it, the less often it goes away.

TN usually affects people over 50, especially women. The cause is probably a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. Tumors and multiple sclerosis can also cause TN, but in some cases the cause is unknown.

There is no single test to diagnose TN. It can be hard to diagnose, since many other conditions can cause facial pain. Treatment options include medicines, surgery, and complementary techniques.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Definition (MSHCZE) Neuralgie trigeminu – krutá záchvatovitá bolest objevující se zejm. podél 2. a 3. větve V. hlavového nervu. (cit. Velký lékařský slovník online, 2013 http://lekarske.slovniky.cz/ )
Definition (CSP) syndrome characterized by recurrent episodes of excruciating pain lasting several seconds or longer in the sensory distribution of the trigeminal nerve.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D014277
ICD9 350.1
ICD10 G50.0
SnomedCT 193090007, 322769008, 155066002, 31681005
English Neuralgias, Trigeminal, Tic Douloureux, Trigeminal Neuralgias, Trigeminal neuralgia [no drugs here], Trigeminal Neuralgia, TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA, TIC DOULOUREUX, FOTHERGILL DIS, trifocal neuralgia, tic douloureux, tic douloureux (diagnosis), Tic doloreux, Neuralgia trigeminal, Disease, Fothergill, Fothergill Disease, Epileptiform Neuralgia, Neuralgia, Epileptiform, Epileptiform Neuralgias, Neuralgias, Epileptiform, Neuralgia, Trifacial, Trifacial Neuralgia, Neuralgias, Trifacial, Trifacial Neuralgias, Trigeminal Neuralgia [Disease/Finding], trigeminus neuralgia, fothergill disease, trigeminal neuralgia, TN, Tic Douleureux, Trigeminal neuralgia [no drugs here] (disorder), Trigeminal neuralgia NOS (disorder), Neuralgia, Trigeminal, Fothergill's neuralgia, Tic douloureux, Trigeminal neuralgia, Trifacial neuralgia, TN - Trigeminal neuralgia, Trigeminal neuralgia (disorder), Fothergill; neuralgia, Fothergill; trigeminal neuralgia, cranial nerve; neuralgia, fifth or trigeminal, douloureux; tic, neuralgia; Fothergill, neuralgia; cranial nerve, fifth or trigeminal, neuralgia; trifacial, neuralgia; trigeminal, pain; trigeminal, tic; douloureux, trifacial; neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia; Fothergill, trigeminal; neuralgia, trigeminal; pain, Trigeminal neuralgia, NOS, Tic Doloureux, Trigeminal neuralgia NOS
Spanish NEURALGIA DEL TRIGEMINO, Tic doloroso, neuralgia del trigémino, SAI (trastorno), neuralgia del trigémino [sin fármacos], neuralgia del trigémino [sin fármacos] (trastorno), neuralgia del trigémino, SAI, neuralgia de Fothergill, neuralgia del trigémino, neuralgia trifacial, neuralgia trigeminal (trastorno), neuralgia trigeminal, tic doloroso, Neuralgia del trigémino, Neuralgia del Trigémino, Tic de Douloureux
German TRIGEMINUSNEURALGIE, Neuralgie Trigeminus, Tic doloreux, Tic douloureux, Trigeminusneuralgie
Dutch neuralgie trigeminus, pijnlijke tic, Fothergill; neuralgie, Fothergill; trigeminusneuralgie, douloureux; tic, hersenzenuw; neuralgie, vijfde of trigeminus, neuralgie; Fothergill, neuralgie; hersenzenuw, vijfde of trigeminus, neuralgie; trifaciaal, neuralgie; trigeminus, pijn; trigeminus, tic; douloureux, trifaciaal; neuralgie, trigeminus; neuralgie, trigeminus; pijn, trigeminusneuralgie; Fothergill, trigeminus neuralgie, Neuralgie, trigeminus-, Tic douloureux, Trigeminusneuralgie
French Tic douloureux, Neuralgie trigéminale, NEVRALGIE TRIGEMINEE, Maladie de Fothergill, Névralgie du trijumeau, Névralgie du nerf trijumeau, Névralgie essentielle du trijumeau, Tic douloureux de la face
Italian Tic doloroso, Tic douloureux, Nevralgia trifacciale, Malattia di Fothergill, Nevralgia epilettiforme, Nevralgia del trigemino
Portuguese Nevralgia do trigémeo, Tique doloroso, NEVRALGIA DO TRIGEMIO, Nevralgia do trigémio, Neuralgia do Trigêmeo, Tique Doloroso
Swedish Trigeminusneuralgi
Japanese サンサシンケイツウ, 三叉神経痛, フォザーギル神経痛, 疼痛チック, 疼痛性チック, フォサギル神経痛
Finnish Kolmoishermosärky
Russian TIK BOLEZNENNYI, TROINICHNOGO NERVA NEVRALGIIA, TRIGEMINAL'NAIA NEVRALGIIA, ТИК БОЛЕЗНЕННЫЙ, ТРИГЕМИНАЛЬНАЯ НЕВРАЛГИЯ, ТРОЙНИЧНОГО НЕРВА НЕВРАЛГИЯ
Czech Neuralgie trigeminu, nervus trigeminus - neuralgie, neuralgie trigeminu, trigeminální neuralgie, neuralgie trojklaného nervu
Korean 삼차 신경통
Polish Rwa twarzowa, Nerwoból nerwu trójdzielnego
Hungarian Trigeminus neuralgia, Trigeminus-neuralgia, Fájdalmas tic
Norwegian Tic douloureux, Trigeminusnevralgi, Neuralgia nervi trigemini, Epileptiform nevralgi