Neuralgia is a condition of intense pain, burning, or numbness along a nerve pathway. A condition called trigeminal neuralgia can produce debilitating pain in the face. It is a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve, or trigeminal nerve, and produces pain in all three major branches of the nerve. These branches extend into the eye, the upper jaw (maxilla), teeth, sinuses, and the lower jaw (mandible). Because of this broad distribution, the disorder can produce pain in all of those areas. Generally, the pain occurs only on one side, but can occur on both.
Trigeminal neuralgia (tic douloureaux) has been described as “the most excruciating pain known to man.” A less common – and often less severe – variant, atypical trigeminal neuralgia, may produce a dull burning or aching pain, sometimes accompanied by intermittent electric shock-like spikes of pain.