Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs in Richmond, VA
Wang, Xiaoyan, L. Ac., MD (China)
Phone: (804) 301-1784
Email: or
Bringing Wisdom of Ancient China to US for Pain Management
  Trigeminal Neuralgia  

Trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, is a condition that affects the trigeminal nerve (the 5th cranial nerve), one of the largest nerves in the head. Trigeminal neuralgia is primarily known for the intense level of pain it causes. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sending impulses of touch, pain, pressure and temperature to the brain from the face, jaw, gums, forehead and around the eyes. The disorder is more common in women than in men and rarely affects anyone younger than 50.
Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by a sudden, severe, electric shock-like or stabbing pain typically felt on one side of the jaw or cheek. The attacks of pain, which generally last several seconds and may be repeated one after the other, may be triggered by talking, brushing teeth, touching the face, chewing or swallowing. The attacks may come and go throughout the day and last for days, weeks or months at a time, and then disappear for months or years.
The exact cause of Trigeminal neuralgia is not known. However, certain factors - such as physical nerve damage and stress - can trigger the beginning of the painful attacks. Nerve damage may occur as the nerve passes from the openings in the skull to the muscles and tissue of the face. As the damage compresses the nerve, the nerve cells shed a protective and conductive coating known as myelin. Myelin acts as an insulator. Without this insulation, information from nerves would be transmitted inefficiently. This may result in weakness, sensory loss or other neurological dysfunction. Damage may also be the result of a biochemical change in the nerve tissue itself or an abnormal blood vessel compressing the nerve as it exits from the brain. In almost all cases, an excessive burst of nervous activity from a damaged nerve causes the painful attacks.
In people without Trigeminal neuralgia, blood vessels are usually not in contact with the trigeminal nerve root entry zone. Though pulsation of vessels upon the trigeminal nerve root do not visibly damage the nerve, the irritation from repeated pulsations may lead to changes of nerve function and delivery of abnormal signals to the trigeminal nerve nucleus. Over time, this may cause hyperactivity of the trigeminal nerve nucleus which results in the generation of Trigeminal neuralgia pain.
Psychological stress can be the cause as well as the outcome of Trigeminal neuralgia. In clinical studies, patients have been known to report Trigeminal neuralgia following major stress like divorce, the death of close family members, a job change, or unhealthy family relationships.
About Us
Pain Relief
Wang, Xiaoyan
Phone: (804) 301-1784