Trigeminal Neuralgia: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Trigeminal neuralgia is a problem with the large nerve that brings feeling to your face. It causes a sudden, sharp pain on one side of your face. Just touching your cheek or talking can set off shooting pain toward the ear, eye, or nostril.

Some people have long periods when they do not have pain, and then it comes back. Some people have periods of pain often. But medicine or other treatment often can make the pain go away. If you keep having pain, surgery may help.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Write down when you have pain and what you were doing when it started. Try to find what causes the pain. Being in a cold wind, yawning, or shaving are examples. Avoid or limit these triggers if you can.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed.
    • Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, take an over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Reduce stress in your life. Ask your doctor about ways to relax. These may include breathing exercises and massage.
  • Think about joining a support group with other people who have this problem. These groups can give comfort and information about what to do to feel better.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe pain that you can't control.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You are not able to sleep because of the pain.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.