What are trigeminal neuralgia causes?
The main cause of this condition is damage along the trigeminal nerve. This could be caused by a facial injury or deep in the brain at the trigeminal nucleus. Other conditions that can damage the trigeminal nerve include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Herpes zoster (shingles)
Some researchers hypothesize that deterioration of the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves may also cause trigeminal neuralgia. If there are no other trigeminal neuralgia causes that can be identified, this may be the most likely explanation.
How is trigeminal neuralgia diagnosed?
As with many similar conditions, much of the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia is based on eliminating all other conditions first. MedlinePlus reports that:
“There is no single test to diagnose TN. It can be hard to diagnose, since many other conditions can cause facial pain.”
Doctors will conduct a thorough physical and neurological exam. Patient history will include location and incidence of symptoms and any potential underlying conditions that may have caused the condition. Post-herpetic neuralgia (nerve pain caused by shingles), cluster headaches, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) have similar symptoms and patterns and will be eliminated as possibilities first.