Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, is an extremely painful condition of one side of the face. It involves the trigeminal, or fifth cranial nerve, which carries messages from the face to the brain. Trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused when the nerve gets irrigated, e.g. by blood vessels rubbing against the nerve, which can damage its protective layer, called the myelin sheath. This results in pain described as shooting, burning, or electrical, lasting for seconds or minutes. It can be triggered by light stimuli such as tooth brushing, hair combing, applying make-up, or even a light breeze or cold air.

Some patients report preventing pain by eating only soft or liquid foods, or by avoiding hot or cold foods.

The following medications are used to treat trigeminal neuralgia:

  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)–is a seizure medication that “stabilizes” nerves and is the most-studied treatment and has been shown to be effective.
  • Tileptal (oxcarbazepine)—like carbamazepine, it diminishes impulses in overly excited nerve cells; also used in treating seizures
  • Lamictal (lamotrigine)–stabilizes nerve cell membranes
  • Neurontin (gabapentin)–alters activity of neurotransmitters, which carry messages between nerve cells
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)–reduces pain messages sent from nerves to brain
  • Baclofen–usually used as muscle relaxant, occasionally also prescribed as adjunct therapy for nerve pain

Did you know? QuickMD can diagnose and treat trigeminal neuralgia online via telemedicine and prescribe carbamazepine or other prescription medications online.