HISTORICAL CHARACTERIZATION OF TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA

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Abstract

TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA IS a well known clinical entity characterized by agonizing, paroxysmal, and lancinating facial pain, often triggered by movements of the mouth or eating. Historical reviews of facial pain have attempted to describe this severe pain over the past 2.5 millennia. The ancient Greek physicians Hippocrates, Aretaeus, and Galen, described kephalalgias, but their accounts were vague and did not clearly correspond with what we now term trigeminal neuralgia. The first adequate description of trigeminal neuralgia was given in 1671, followed by a fuller description by physician John Locke in 1677. André described the convulsive-like condition in 1756, and named it tic douloureux; in 1773, Fothergill described it as “a painful affection of the face;” and in 1779, John Hunter more clearly characterized the entity as a form of “nervous disorder” with reference to pain of the teeth, gums, or tongue where the disease “does not reside.” One hundred fifty years later, the neurological surgeon Walter Dandy equated neurovascular compression of the trigeminal nerve with trigeminal neuralgia.

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