This pain, also known as tic douloureux, involves the nerves of the face and usually occurs on one side of the face only. Its pain is intermittent and severe, often describes as electric shock-like or stabbing. Talking, eating, or even by something as seemingly innocuous as wind blowing against the cheeks may trigger pain. Where many attacks occur in a short period, the face may be sore constantly. People often lose weight and sleep from frequent attacks.
Trigeminal neuralgia is most common in people over 40. The disorder may have many causes. Multiple sclerosis, tumors and blood vessel abnormalities may be responsible for a few cases, but in most instances the cause remains obscure.
One of the more commonly prescribed drugs used to treat trigeminal neuralgia is carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol). Three-quarters of all patients respond favorably to its use. Other medications that may be beneficial include gabapentin (Neurontin), tramadol (Ultram) and phenytoin (Dilantin). Pain medications also may be necessary during prolonged attacks.