The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve located within the brain and is responsible for transmitting sensations from the face to the brain. It is composed of three branches; the ophthalmic, maxillary, and mandibular. Each branch connects nerves from the brain to different parts of the face.
The trigeminal nerve is responsible for transmitting sensations to the mouth, teeth, face, and nasal cavity. It is also the nerve that controls the muscles used for chewing.
Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when a blood vessel, either a vein or artery, puts pressure on the nerve at the base of the brain. In rare circumstances, the origin of trigeminal neuralgia is caused by a tumor. Symptoms include bouts of severe stabbing facial pain, that may be triggered by touch, chewing, or talking.
Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia is with the use of medications, such as anticonvulsants or muscle-relaxers, alcohol injections, or surgery. When surgery is performed, radiation can be applied to the base of the trigeminal nerve to reduce pain or blood vessels that are compressing the nerve can be moved.