Overview

What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of chronic nerve pain that affects the face—usually one side of the jaw or cheek—making it difficult for you to enjoy daily activities.

The trigeminal nerve is located at the base of the brain and carries sensation from your face to your brain. A flare-up of trigeminal neuralgia may occur for weeks or months and then disappear for a while, sometimes years. Although flare-ups can be mild, the condition can progress, causing the attacks to be longer, more frequent and more painful.

Common triggers include:

  • Pressure from shaving
  • Applying makeup
  • Brushing teeth
  • Standing in the wind
  • Eating, drinking or talking

Although this condition is not life-threatening, it can interfere with eating and drinking.

Northwestern Medicine Functional Neurosurgery Program
The Functional Neurosurgery Program specialists at Northwestern Memorial Hospital work in integrated teams to provide patients with a multidisciplinary approach to their care, including:

  • Assessment by a fellowship-trained neurologist in movement disorders and epilepsy
  • Comprehensive pharmacological therapy
  • Neurosurgical evaluations for deep brain stimulation (DBS), epilepsy surgery, pain surgery, intrathecal medication infusion and other therapeutic procedures
  • The opportunity to participate in clinical research trials
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy through Northwestern Memorial Hospital in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
  • Social work services: consultation, counseling, support groups, and access to community services and resources
  • Educational programs
  • Learning materials: books, videos, audiotapes, and internet resources
  • Neuropsychology services

Northwestern Medicine Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic
The Northwestern Medicine Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital was established in 2009 with support from the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy. We employ a multidisciplinary approach in which specially trained personnel provide diagnostic, treatment, rehabilitative and supportive services. Clinics are held on a weekly basis.