What may trigger an attack of trigeminal neuralgia (TN)?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019
  • Author: Manish K Singh, MD; Chief Editor: Robert A Egan, MD  more...
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A valuable clue to the diagnosis is the triggering of the pain with certain activities. Patients carefully avoid rubbing the face or shaving a trigger area, in contrast to other facial pain syndromes, in which they massage the face or apply heat or ice. Also, many patients try to hold their face still while talking to avoid precipitating an attack. According to Sands, trigger zones, or areas of increased sensitivity, are present in one half of patients and often lie near the nose or mouth. [17] Chewing, talking, smiling, or drinking cold or hot fluids may initiate the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Touching, shaving, brushing teeth, blowing the nose, or encountering cold air from an open automobile window may also elicit pain.

In contrast to migrainous pain, persons with this condition rarely suffer attacks during sleep, which is another key point in the history.

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