Association between paroxysmal trigeminal neuralgia and atypical facial pain

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1999 Dec;37(6):444-7. doi: 10.1054/bjom.1999.0135.


Paroxysmal trigeminal neuralgia and atypical facial pain are both fairly common conditions that produce pain in the face of different character. Trigeminal neuralgia is sharp and shooting, brought on by facial movement, change of temperature and by touching the face at a specific point (the trigger point). Atypical facial pain is dull and unrelenting and its site is ill-defined. Trigeminal neuralgia is generally more common in older people, and affects women slightly more than men, and atypical facial pain generally affects younger people, with women predominating. The pains should never be confused. We have noticed that many patients with trigeminal neuralgia have additional symptoms of atypical facial pain and so we reviewed the records of the Pain Relief Unit retrospectively. Of the 83 patients identified with trigeminal neuralgia where records were adequate, 35 (42%) also had atypical facial pain. Five of these had developed it before the onset of trigeminal neuralgia and could be examples of pretrigeminal neuralgia. There were eight patients in the series with multiple sclerosis, of whom two also had atypical facial pain. There seemed to be no relationship between the development of atypical facial pain and the interventions used to treat trigeminal neuralgia. It is important that both conditions are identified and treated individually.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Facial Pain / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Clinics
  • Sex Factors
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / diagnosis*