Trigeminal Neuralgia

This information is useful for children and adults
Portrait of a man touching his jaw who is in pain.
Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our doctors specialize in treating rare neurological conditions including trigeminal neuralgia.
  • We are the only institution in Connecticut that offers Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
  • Our doctors work to create a comprehensive treatment plan for patients.

For people with trigeminal neuralgia (TN), everyday activities such as eating, talking or shaving can feel like torture—triggering jolts that feel like electric shocks, aching and/or burning in the face.  Even being outside when it's windy can set off searing attacks of pain. Trigeminal neuralgia is a rare neurological condition that causes chronic and severe facial pain.

Only 15,000 new cases of TN are diagnosed every year, and few physicians have experience diagnosing and treating the condition. Yale Medicine offers expertise in treatment of this and other rare neurological disorders. Our specialists have treated over 2,400 patients with trigeminal neuralgia.  

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is caused by a malfunction in the trigeminal nerve—a large bundle of fibers at the base of the brain that is responsible for sensation in the face. 

Although the exact cause of trigeminal neuralgia is not known, it can be caused by damage to the lining of the nerve or it may be the result of an artery or a vein pushing against the trigeminal nerve. This can happen naturally as a person gets older, or it can also be caused by an injury or stroke.

TN also can be caused by multiple sclerosis, or by a tumor or another brain abnormality.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.