Trigeminal neuralgia causes facial pain.Trigeminalneuralgiadevelops in mid to late life. The condition is the most frequently occurring of all the nerve pain disorders. The pain, which comes and goes, feels like bursts of sharp, stabbing, electric-shocks. This pain can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.
People with trigeminal neuralgia become plagued by intermittent severe pain that interferes with common daily activities such as eating and sleep. They live in fear of unpredictable painful attacks, which leads to sleep deprivation and undereating. The condition can lead to irritability, severe anticipatory anxiety and depression, and life-threatening malnutrition. Suicidal depression is not uncommon.
People often call trigeminal neuralgia "tic douloureux" because of a characteristic muscle spasm that accompanies the pain.
The pain comes from one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve-the major carrier of sensory information from the face to the brain.
In almost all cases (97%), pain will be restricted to one side of your face.
Most of the time, doctors cannot identify any disease of the trigeminal nerve or the central nervous system.
Trigeminal neuralgia most frequently affects women older than 50 years. The disease occurs rarely in those younger than 30 years. Such cases are usually linked to damage from diseases of central nervous system, for example, multiple sclerosis.
The condition has no clear-cut cause.
In all cases, though, an excessive burst of nervous activity from a damaged nerve causes the painful attacks
A defining feature of trigeminal neuralgia is the trigger zone-a small area in the central part of the face, usually on a cheek, nose, or lip, that, when stimulated, triggers a typical burst of pain.
Many people avoid food and drink rather than experience the severe pain.
Between attacks, most people remain relatively pain-free. A subgroup, however, experience a dull ache between attacks, suggesting physical compression of the affected nerve, either by a blood vessel or some other structure
Contact your doctor when you begin to have these pains.
It is essential you see a doctor familiar with the care of patients with trigeminal neuralgia early on to help prevent the development of more severe complications.
It is especially important to work with your doctor because with appropriate drug therapy trigeminal neuralgia can almost always be controlled.
Seek immediate medical attention or go to a hospital's Emergency Department under the following circumstances:
When your current medication does not control the pain and you need immediate relief
When your pain prevents eating and drinking and places you at risk for malnutrition or dehydration
When you experience profound side effects of your medication such as severe drowsiness, sedation, nausea, or vomiting
When a doctor advises you to seek evaluation and treatment for any of these problem
Your doctor must rule out a variety of other causes of facial pain besides trigeminal neuralgia, including various unusual forms of headache.
Physical examination of the head will help define other possible causes of this painful syndrome. Physical findings in people with trigeminal neuralgia are normal.
A doctor should complete an initial neurological examination to determine the presence of other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, that are associated with nerve pain syndromes like trigeminal neuralgia.
Doctors reserve more extensive testing, such as a CT scan or MRI of the head, for people in whom they suspect an associated condition, such as skull or brain tumor, infection, or neurological condition
Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment Self-Care at Home
Because the pain stems from nerves deep inside your skull, no home remedy is effective
Pain specialists use invasive therapy, including nerve blocks, nerve destruction, and nerve decompression techniques, as well as drug therapy to treat trigeminal neuralgia.
In some instances, a single injection, or a series of injections, or perhaps one decompressive procedure, will reduce or eliminate the pain and prevent your need for a long course of drug therapy.
Injection techniques also can relieve unremitting pain instantly and further confirm the diagnosis. Using real-time x-rays, doctors can target the anatomical origin of the nerve deep in your skull. Then, with a fine needle, they can do one of the following to halt the painful syndrome:
This procedure can be performed with surprisingly little discomfor
If doctors clearly determine the cause of the disorder to be compression of an artery on the trigeminal nerve deep in your skull, a neurosurgeon can perform a microvascular decompression.
The surgeon moves the compressing artery to a location away from the compressed root of the nerve.
The major disadvantage is that it requires a neurosurgical operation-with all its complications-to get access to the root of the trigeminal nerve