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July 2007, Volume 37 Number 7 , p 18 - 19


  • Debra M. Alexander RN, CNRN, BSN


Alexander, Debra M. RN, CNRN, BSN

Debra M. Alexander is a certified neuroscience registered nurse at the Brain and Neurospine Clinic in Cape Girardeau, Mo. Web sites last accessed June 6, 2007.

QUESTION: What causes trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and what's the best way to treat it?

ANSWER: Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain syndrome characterized by episodes of electric shocklike, stabbing pain. Irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which branches into the forehead, cheek, and lower jaw, causes excruciating and debilitating pain, typically in the cheek or jaw on one side of the face and occasionally in the area around the nose and eye. (For details, see Getting to the root of trigeminal neuralgia. ) Although TN can't be cured, it usually can be managed with medications or surgery.

Each year, about 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with TN. The disorder is more common in women than men and rarely affects anyone under age 50. Risk factors for TN include ...

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