Facial pain, also known as trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux, appears to be due to plaques that involve the sensory nucleus at the base of the brain. This causes patients to experience intermittent sharp, jabbing or lightning-like pain in the face. Usually centered on the side of the face, trigeminal neuralgia can radiate to the side of the head and sometimes down the shoulder into the arm. The pain can occur spontaneously or can be brought on by lightly touching the face or by drinking hot or cold liquids.
Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia can include anti-seizure medications. These treatments can be effective in over 70 percent of cases of trigeminal neuralgia. As a last resort, surgery to destroy the affected nerve is sometimes performed in cases where trigeminal neuralgia cannot be controlled with medication.