244 Westchester Avenue, White Plains, NY
Alain C. J. de Lotbinière, MD, CM, FACS, FRCSC

The Causes

Trigeminal Nerve

What causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

The commonly accepted view is that Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is caused when a blood vessel presses on the trigeminal nerve, causing a “short circuit” in the nerve’s fibers. But occasionally the disorder is caused by:

  • a tumor pressing on the trigeminal nerve
  • a vascular malformation
  • multiple sclerosis

Either way, the nerve becomes super sensitive to any kind of stimulation, such as shaving, chewing, or touching the face. The terrible pain that results may last for a few seconds or a couple of minutes per episode. But episodes may last for days, weeks, or even months. They also can disappear for a long while. Unfortunately, the pain can become truly debilitating. Worse, the condition may not be properly diagnosed.

Not infrequently, TN is confused with a dental problem, migraine headaches, sinusitis, an eye problem, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), or temporal arteritis. Although it has been traditionally stated that the disorder is not very common, occurring one in every 20,000 people, the true incidence is probably closer to one in every 4,000, given the fact that both dental and medical professionals often misdiagnose the disorder leading to unnecessary dental extractions or prescription of inappropriate drugs.

Only a handful of neurosurgeons in the United States have the expertise and training to properly treat TN. It is important to get help early on to prevent the development of more severe complications. If you suspect you may be suffering from TN, please contact us at your earliest convenience.