How is the pain of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) characterized?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019
  • Author: Manish K Singh, MD; Chief Editor: Robert A Egan, MD  more...
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Answer

The pain quality is characteristically severe, paroxysmal, and lancinating. It commences with a sensation of electrical shocks in an affected area, then quickly crescendos in less than 20 seconds to an excruciating discomfort felt deep in the face, often contorting the patient's expression. The pain then begins to fade within seconds, only to give way to a burning ache lasting seconds to minutes. During attacks, patients may grimace, wince, or make an aversive head movement, as if trying to escape the pain, thus producing an obvious movement, or tic; hence the term "tic douloureux."


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