Trigeminal neuralgia (TN, aka the “suicide disease”) is considered to be the worst pain known to man and medicine. People with this rare condition experience excruciating pain to their fifth cranial nerve.
Some treatment options are available, but the condition is progressive and incurable. Although it is not a widely known disease, even non-sufferers will find certain facts about TN interesting and unsettling.
1.A Long History
Discussions about facial torture (tortura oris) can be traced back to the ancient Greek physicians Galen and Aretaeus of Cappadocia in the first century and Avicenna in the 11th century. Even Hippocrates found versions of this facial pain a notable mystery in his writings.
The next reports of the condition appear in Somerset, England, in the 13th century. At the tomb of Bishop Button, one can see wall carvings of people depicted as suffering severe facial agony.
Historians suggest that this was a reference to what we now know as trigeminal neuralgia and not just toothaches. Button’s skeleton was later exhumed, and it possessed a set of nearly perfect teeth. Nevertheless, Button had been canonized and travelers came to give offerings at his grave in the hopes that the saint would relieve their toothaches.