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What is trigeminal nerve block?

Trigeminal nerve block is a type of therapeutic pain block that involves injecting a local anesthetic into the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain.

What is trigeminal nerve block used for?

Trigeminal nerve block is primarily used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition affecting the trigeminal nerve. It may also help prevent headaches in people with chronic migraine.

You may experience numbness immediately after the injection, and there may be some tenderness or a bruising sensation for a few days after the injection. Severe trigeminal neuralgia or migraine pain usually resolves right after the injection is administered. The full effect is usually noticed after the soreness wears off about 3-5 days after the procedure.

The length of time before symptoms reappear can vary widely, lasting only days for some people but weeks or months for others.

Trigeminal nerve block is not usually a cure for trigeminal neuralgia and chronic migraines. Symptoms can recur days to months after the procedure.

Am I a good candidate for trigeminal nerve block?

You may be a good candidate for trigeminal nerve block if you have facial pain or migraines that do not respond to other treatments.

Side effects may include difficulty chewing or swallowing and numbness in the face, but these effects do not last more than a few hours. Another transient side effect is facial weakness, but this is very rare. You may also have bruising, swelling, or soreness at the injection site for a few days after the procedure.

Trigeminal nerve block is an outpatient procedure and does not require general anesthesia.

Information and Resources

Trigeminal Neuralgia—National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Migraine—National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Medically Reviewed by Kerry Knievel, DO, FAHS and Shane Root, MD on June 7, 2021

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