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Fothergill's disease

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Historical term for the clinical picture in trigeminus neuralgia. Characterised by unilateral, paroxysmal, stabbing pain of high intensity in the area supplied by the second or third division of the trigeminal nerve. Onset usually after 45 years of age, prevalent in females. Unknown cause, but often precipitated by touching specific areas in or about the mouth.

John Fothergill’s description of "a painful affection of the face" was presented to the Medical Society in London in 1773.

    "There is as exquisite an anguish suffered as from any distemper to which the body is subject, if we may judge by the expressions of it..."
    William Heberden (1710-1801),
    in his Commentaries on the History and Cure of Diseases. London, 1802.


  • J. Fothergill:
    Of a painful affection of the face.
    Medical Observations and Inquiries by a Society of Physicians in London, 1773, 5: 129-142. Reprinted in Medical Classics, 1940, 5: 100-106.
    One of the earliest clinical accounts of migraine headache.
  • Samuel Fothergill (1715-1772):
    A concise and systematic account of a painful affection of the nerves of the face, commonly called tic doloreux. London, 1804.
    Samuel Fothergill was John Fothergill's brother.

  • F. H. Lewy:
    The first authentic case of major trigeminal neuralgia and some comments on the history of this disease.
    Annals of Medical History, New York, 1938, New series 10: 247-250.

  • Nicolas André (born 1704):
    Observations pratiques sur les maladies de l’urèthre et sur plusiers faits convulsifs, & la guérison de plusiers maladies chirurgicales, avec la décomposition d’un remède propre à réprimer la dissolution gangréneuse & cancéreuse, & à la réparer; avec des principes qui pourront servir à employer les différens caustiques. Paris: Delaguette, 1756. Nicolas André invented the term tic douloureux.

  • Alexis Pujol (1739-1804):
    Essai sur la maladie de la face nommée le tic douloureux; avec quelques réflexions sur le Raptus Caninus de Coelius Aurelianus.
    Paris, Théophile Barrois le jeune, 1787. XXXII + 207 pages.
    Pujon stressed the fact that trigeminal neuralgia os often confused with toothache, and healthy teeth are extracted unnecessarily.

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