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November 7

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Home » Blog » Atypical Face Pain vs. Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia

Atypical Face Pain

Facial pain with mixed symptoms and of unknown origin. May have some of the symptoms of TN but also others, maybe even outside of areas served by the trigeminal nerve. A newer proposed definition is “face pain of psychogenic origin,” or pain that is originating in the brain. Sometimes called “atypical facial pain.”

Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia

A type of facial pain that may have some of the characteristics of classic TN (i.e. sharp stabs and trigger points) but also symptoms that aren’t common to classic TN (i.e. constant, aching or burning pain in addition to the stabs). Sometimes referred to as “TN-2” or “atypical TN.”

Excerpt from Striking Back: The Trigeminal Neuralgia and Face Pain Handbook by George Weigel and Kenneth F. Casey, M.D.:

“Perplexed by…mixed-symptom cases, doctors began referring to them as ‘atypical trigeminal neuralgia.’ That term dates back to 1927 when that efinition was given to pains similar to TN that didn’t quite match the definition of classic TN…If these symptoms stray far enough from TN – especially when the pain goes beyond the areas served by the trigeminal nerve – the diagnosis may change to the even murkier tag of ‘atypical face pain.’

The definitions matter because the effectiveness of treatments vary depending on the nature of the people’s pains. Anticonvulsant mediations, for instance, usually work best against sharp, stabbing pains while anti-depressants and anti-inflammatory medicines tend to be more effective agains burning, aching, constant pain.”

More information

Read more about this subject in Striking Back!. You can purchase of copy of Striking Back! in the TNA Store. Proceeds benefit our non-profit organization to help advance facial pain research and advocate for face pain patients.