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Tic douloureux – causes, side effects and treatments at

Saturday, July 21, 2018 by

Medical students all remember the countless mnemonics for cranial nerves, whether it was, “Oh, Oh, Oh, To Tickle A Female’s Vagina Gave Victor A Hard-on” or “Oh, Oh, Oh, To Touch And Feel A Guy’s Vein And Hotdog.” These helped them remember the 12 cranial nerves in order and the corresponding illnesses that can affect them.

One of the more common neurological disorders that was studied centered on the fifth nerve, the trigeminal, so named because it has three branches responsible for face sensation:

  • The ophthalmic branch which controls the scalp, forehead, upper eyelid, and the tip of the nose;
  • The maxillary branch which controls the lower eyelid, the side of the nose, the upper lip and cheek, and the upper teeth and gums; and
  • The mandibular branch which controls the lower teeth and gums, lower lip, chin, jaw, and parts of the ear.

Dysfunction in any one or all of these branches is called trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureax. This specific type of inflammation causes intense pain and can force patients to move the head in an obvious movement known as a “tic”.

Trigeminal neuralgia may be an isolated episode or may occur every few hours, minutes, or even seconds. It can affect people of any age, although those older than 60 years old are at an increased risk of developing the condition.

For reasons yet known, trigeminal neuralgia affects the right side of the face five times more often than the left.

In nearly all cases, tic douloureax is caused by a compression of the trigeminal nerve; however five to 10 percent can be attributed to other medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis, tumors, and abnormalities in the skull.

Known symptoms of tic douloureux  

Tic douloureux causes sharp, stabbing pain on one side of the face. It usually begins at the angle of the jaw and then begins to radiate along the junction lines. Pain is intense and is described as an “electric shock”. Patients say that it worsens with touch, chewing, or cold exposure in the mouth. During an attack, affected individuals will shield their face to protect it from being touched. This is an important distinction and diagnostic tool: other pain conditions (like a toothache) would have the person rubbing or holding the face to alleviate the pain.

The pain resolves completely after a few moments. The length at which attacks occur vary per individual. Pain may subside for months or years but there is always a risk that trigeminal neuralgia will recur without any sort of warning.

Body systems harmed by tic douloureux  

Trigeminal neuralgia affects the fifth cranial nerve. Symptoms are focused on the face.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent tic douloureux

A low-saturated fat diet is the best way to prevent trigeminal neuralgia. Medical doctors have found that excessive saturated fat intake damages the nerves associated with face sensation.

Treatments, management plans for tic douloureux  

The condition is excruciating (to say the least) but is thankfully quite short-lived. That being said, no one can guarantee that it will not recur. There is no known cure for the condition but there are some home remedies you can try to help with the after-effects of the pain. These include:

  • Cayenne pepper – Creams that contain capsaicin or cayenne pepper can reduce pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia. Alternatively, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper to a few tablespoons of olive oil and apply the mixture on the affected area.
  • Chinese herbs – Several traditional Chinese medicines are used to alleviate pain in the face.
  • Pinkroots – Spigelia, as they are more commonly called, are used in homeopathy as an effective cure for pain.

Where to learn more


Tic douloureux, or trigeminal neuralgia, is a disorder caused by the inflammation of the fifth cranial nerve.

The condition affects facial sensations and is described to be a sharp and excruciating type of pain.

There is no known cure for tic douloureux.

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