Facial Pain (Trigeminal Neuralgia)

Trigeminal neuralgia is a sudden, severe facial pain. It's often described as a sharp shooting pain or like having an electric shock in the jaw, teeth or gums. Trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve. This is the nerve inside the skull that transmits sensations of pain and touch from your face, teeth and mouth to your brain.

Trigeminal neuralgia is usually caused by a nearby blood vessel pressing on part of the nerve inside the skull. This makes the nerve abnormally sensitive and can cause severe pain triggered by light touching, eating or talking. There can also be other causes for the nerve to get damaged such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a tumor.


Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia are described as sudden, severe facial pain. It usually happens in short, unpredictable attacks that can last from a few seconds to about 2 minutes. The attacks stop as suddenly as they start. In most cases, trigeminal neuralgia affects just one side of the face.


Medication is often used first to treat trigeminal neuralgia. If using oral medication is not effective, surgery, radiation therapy or nerve puncture are other treatment options. The surgery is called Jannetta Procedure, named after the neurosurgeon Peter Jannetta who first described the procedure. During the procedure the blood vessel is moved away from the nerve and kept separate by placing a Teflon material in between the two.

Within UNCH Haaglanden Medisch Centrum is specialised in diagnosing and treating patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia. More information (in Dutch) can be found on NVvN's website

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