TN is associated with a variety of conditions. It can be caused by a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brain stem, which prompts the wearing away or damage to the protective coating around the nerve (the myelin sheath).
The intense flashes of pain can be triggered by vibration or contact with the cheek (such as when shaving, washing the face, or applying makeup), brushing teeth, eating, drinking, talking, or being exposed to the wind. People with TN avoid social contact and daily activities such as eating and talking because they fear an attack. Pain from TN is frequently very isolating and depressing for the individual. Depression and sleep disturbance may render individuals more vulnerable to pain and suffering.