Two million Americans suffer from facial pain. Twenty-five percent of them have trigeminal neuralgia, a condition where the blood vessels press or rub against the trigeminal nerve. More than three-quarters of facial pain sufferers have other conditions that fall into at least two other categories: trigeminal neuropathy and atypical facial pain.
Treatments for This Condition
What is trigeminal neuropathy?
Characterized by a constant burning pain, trigeminal neuropathic pain (also referred to as trigeminal neuropathy or atypical facial pain) is thought to occur from a nerve injury of some type. Although it involves the trigeminal nerve, many patients have pain conduction through the autonomic nerves in the face. This pain can originate as a result of structural anomalies (i.e., tumors), inflammatory conditions (e.g., multiple sclerosis or herpes zoster), or damage to the trigeminal nerve. Tingling or numbness sometimes accompanies trigeminal neuropathic pain. The pain can wax and wane and is not usually triggered by outside factors. It can also feel aching or pulling. Eating, talking, or stress can increase its severity, but never in a sudden way, waxing and waning from hour to hour or day to day.
What is atypical facial pain?
The medical field uses the term atypical facial pain quite liberally. It covers the spectrum of chronic facial pain that has no direct cause. Often, the pain is thought to be psychogenic, or generated by the brain, even though the pain is very real. This type of facial pain differs from trigeminal neuralgia in that it is not isolated to one side of the face and can or cannot be sharp, jarring pain. Patients describe it in the same way as trigeminal neuropathy, but the pain has no inciting event. Atypical facial pain often coexists with depression, fibromyalgia, and/or chronic fatigue syndrome.