Trigeminal neuralgia is a terrible disorder of the trigeminal, or fifth cranial nerve. This is one of the most painful problems that plagues human beings. In fact, its description first appeared in the scientific literature in 1672.

Another common name for trigeminal neuralgia is tic douloureux which literally means unbearably painful twitch. Far too often, when a person is suffering with severe facial pain with no apparent cause, the diagnosis given is trigeminal neuralgia. Because of this, the patient may be subjected to medications and even very serious surgical procedures which may not be necessary.

The symptoms tic douloureux are very characteristic: sharp electrical pain which lasts for seconds. This pain is triggered by touching a specific area of the skin by washing, shaving, applying makeup, brushing the teeth, kissing, or even cold air.

The second division of the trigeminal nerve (the maxillary division), which supplies feeling to the mid-face, upper teeth and palate, seems to involved most. The pain is so severe that the sufferer will do virtually anything to avoid touching the trigger zone, producing the pain.