Trigeminal neuralgia — what is this relatively unknown ailment?

People with trigeminal neuralgia may endure pain so intense, they are unable to eat, talk, swallow, brush their teeth or otherwise live a normal life — but only when the pain occurs. Unlike other kinds of chronic pain, the shooting facial pain comes and goes, and can start up again months or years after the first episode.

“Patients are usually normal and very functional between the painful attacks,” said Slavin, who runs UIC’s neurosurgical clinic and has researched the condition for 27 years.

Sufferers experience pain on one side of their face — more often the right — but people with multiple sclerosis sometimes have pain on both sides, experts say.

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