Trigeminal Neuralgia

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

Skip to the navigation


It is possible that the main title of the report Trigeminal Neuralgia is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.


  • Fothergill Disease
  • Tic Douloureux
  • Trifacial Neuralgia
  • TN

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion


Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also known as tic douloureux, is a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve (trigeminal nerve). The disorder is sometimes broken down into type 1 and type 2. TN type 1 (TN1) is characterized by attacks of intense, stabbing pain affecting the mouth, cheek, nose, and/or other areas on one side of the face. TN type 2 (TN2) is characterized by less intense pain, but a constant dull aching or burning pain. Both types of pain can occur in the same individual, even at the same time. In some cases, the pain can be excruciating and incapacitating. If untreated, TN can have a profound effect on a person's quality of life. In most cases, TN1 develops due to a blood vessel pressing against the trigeminal nerve, but sometimes no underlying cause can be identified (idiopathic). TN2 can be idiopathic, due to compression of the trigeminal nerve, or can occur due to a known underlying cause such as a tumor or multiple sclerosis. It is not known why one person gets symptoms of TN1 versus TN2; it may be due to the number of vessels (e.g. arteries, veins) or the degree of compression. TN can usually be managed through medications, surgery or injections.


There is no consensus or agreed upon classification system for TN. TN1 is also known as classical trigeminal neuralgia. TN2 was once known as atypical or symptomatic TN. However the term "atypical" trigeminal neuralgia has been inconsistently used for individuals who do not have TN1 and remains a vague, undefined term. Consequently, many researchers and patients have advocated eliminating the term "atypical TN", which remains a "wastebasket" diagnosis that serves no useful purpose and is often a disservice to patients. Symptomatic TN is often reserved for cases that develop because of multiple sclerosis. The term trigeminal neuropathic facial pain may be used for pain that results from unintentional injury to the trigeminal nerve, which can result from a variety of conditions including facial trauma, oral surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery, or stroke.


TNA - The Facial Pain Association

408 W. University Ave

Suite 602

Gainesville, FL 32601

Fax: (352)384-3606

Tel: (800)923-3608



American Chronic Pain Association

P.O. Box 850

Rocklin, CA 95677


Tel: (916)632-0922

Fax: (916)652-8190

Tel: (800)533-3231



NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

P.O. Box 5801

Bethesda, MD 20824

Tel: (301)496-5751

Fax: (301)402-2186

Tel: (800)352-9424

TDD: (301)468-5981


American Pain Society

4700 West Lake Avenue

Glenview, IL 60025

Tel: (847)375-4715

Fax: (866)574-2654



Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126

Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126

Tel: (301)251-4925

Fax: (301)251-4911

Tel: (888)205-2311

TDD: (888)205-3223


For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site or email

Last Updated:  2/26/2014

Copyright  1986, 1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2014 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.