Rare Symptoms of MS: 12 Things to Know About Facial Pain

Trigeminal neuralgia is a term used for facial pain which begins in the trigeminal nerve. It usually occurs in people over the age of 50 and affects women more than men. However, it is more common in people who have multiple sclerosis (MS).

We’ve put together a list of facts about trigeminal neuralgia with help from familydoctor.org and the MS Trust UK.

MORE: Seven strange and unusual multiple sclerosis symptoms

  • Over-the-counter pain medications are not effective for trigeminal neuralgia pain.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia is often treated with carbamazepine to begin with. Baclofen may be given to help relax the muscles.
  • If medication doesn’t work, surgery may be required to deliberately injure the trigeminal nerve so that it stops sending pain signals.
  • It’s estimated that between four and six people living with MS will suffer from trigeminal neuralgia. Usually, they’re over the age of 40.
  • There are two trigeminal nerves running down each side of the face. Each trigeminal nerve has three main branches: the upper branch reaches to the scalp and forehead, the middle branch to the nose, cheek and upper jaw and mouth, and the lower branch reaches the lower jaw and mouth.
  • Damage to the myelin sheath protecting the nerve is what causes pain for MS sufferers.
  • Pain may be triggered by everyday activities such as eating, brushing teeth, talking, head movement, breeze, air conditioning, hot or cold food, or may come up spontaneously without any trigger.
  • Pain can last for a few seconds or up to a few minutes. For some, the pain is constant.
  • Some report pain like an electric shock, whereas others report an aching or burning sensation.
  • The pain can range from mild to excruciating.
  • Flares can last for hours, days, or even months.
  • Dental pain or eye pain can sometimes be mistaken for trigeminal neuralgia, so if you experience pain in your mouth or eyes it’s wise to visit your dentist or ophthalmologist.

MORE: Tips for managing cognitive health with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

4 comments

  1. Doris Backstrom says:

    Often the sides of my mouth begin to drool. I often wondered if I have had a stroke. Then no symptom for months. Particularly aggravating when I sing.
    My nerve symptoms were painful after a deadening of my tooth. Lasted over a year. I
    Kept massaging the outside of my face where the nerve descends into the tooth.

  2. CeAnne Ryding-Becker says:

    The way that I describe what TN pain feels like is comparing it to having an ice pick repeatedly stabbing me in the jaw area. It will literally bring me to my knees.

  3. Georgene Sanchez says:

    What a horrible SURPRISE to the mouth!!! Believed must have been a CAVITY however there wasn’t any evidence! Honest it was startling to the point of TEAR FLOODING… Soon learned it was “TRIGEMIMENAL Neuralgia. never experienced pain w/28 years of MS this was a very NEW symptom!

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