The most common cause of trigeminal neuralgia is believed to be vascular compression of the nerve bundle close to where it enervates with the brain stem. The pressure irritates the nerve and the nerve can no longer function properly. Eventually the irritation results in demyelination and severe neural dysfunction. The dysfunctional nerve fires erratically, becomes hypersensitive, and may no long be able to terminate a sensation once the corresponding stimulus has been removed. As a result, someone suffering from this condition will experience paroxysmal allodynia, the sudden onset of extreme pain initiated by non-painful stimuli such as a feather brushing the cheek. Other suspected causes include pressure from tumor, cystic spider bite in the right location, damage from multiple sclerosis, car accident, facial surgery or even body piercing.
The first treatment typically used for patients suffering from TN is medications. Unfortunately, the medications do not always work and people using the medications are likely to suffer from unwanted side effects. After medications are proven to not be beneficial, many people will turn to surgery which carries an entire other set of risks.