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We don't really know what causes trigeminal neuralgia type 1. We have some clues about it, though. We know that nerves sort of transmit these signals and we know that nerves have this lining around them that insulates them so they don't cross-talk. We know that there's some sort of probable defect in that insulation and essentially these nerves short circuit and that's what produces the pain on somebodies face. It is really literally a short circuiting somewhere along the nervous pathway between the nerve as it leaves the brain and then goes to the face. The reason we have those clues is we know that somebody with a condition called multiple sclerosis where the insulation surrounding the nerve is lost, they have a much, much higher rate of trigeminal neuralgia type 1 than the general population. We also know that patients with some tumors that push up against this nerve (the trigeminal nerve) where we think the installation wears down, they also have a higher rate of this painful condition.Wwhile we don't know exactly what the heart of this, we do know that it's some sort of defect in the way the nerves transmit their electrical signal.

Doctor Profile

Abhay Sanan, MD


  • Certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery
  • Clinical Assistant Professor in both the Division of Neurosurgery and the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Arizona, University Medical Center
  • Has received numerous awards throughout his career for research

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