Penn Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders

Frequently Asked Questions

Trigeminal Neuralgia

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve causing severe pain that usually affects one side of the face, normally in the forehead, cheek, jaw, or teeth.

What are the symptoms of Trigemeninal Neuralgia?

Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include very painful, sharp electric-like spasms that last a few seconds or minutes. Pain is usually only on one side of the face, often around the eye, cheek, and lower part of the face. Pain may be triggered by touch or sounds and can occur while a person is brushing teeth, chewing, drinking, eating and/or shaving.

How is Trigeminal Neuralgia diagnosed?

Trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed based on clinical presentation. Ancillary tests such as blood tests, dental examinations, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used primarily to rule out other possible diagnosis.

What are the treatment options?

A wide variety of treatments for trigeminal neuralgia are available at Pennsylvania Hospital. These include medication, surgery, and stereotactic radiosurgery (Gamma Knife Perfexion.)

The Department of Neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital provides comprehensive treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. See more at treatment options.