Symptoms and Signs of Tic Douloureux

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Tic Douloureux

Tic douloureux (trigeminal neuralgia) is a severe, stabbing pain to one side of the face, typically in the jaw, cheek, or lip. It stems from one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve that supplies sensation to the face.

The main symptom of tic douloureux is a sudden, severe, stabbing, sharp, shooting, electric-shock-like pain on one side of the face, usually in the lower half of the face. The pain is intermittent and lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes and is so severe people may become afraid to talk, eat, or move during periods of attacks. The attacks of pain are often triggered by physical stimulation of a trigger point on the same side of the face as the pain. Talking, eating, brushing the teeth, or even cool air on the face may trigger the pain. There may be several episodes of pain per day and there is no pain between episodes. Pain episodes may last from a few weeks to a few months, followed by pain-free periods of months to years. Pain episodes often become more frequent and more resistant to treatment with medications over time.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.