Trigeminal neuralgia is a type of neuralgia, or nerve pain. A person usually feels a sudden stabbing or shocking pain in the jaw or cheek area. Here in this blog, we will cover the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for Trigeminal neuralgia.
What Is the Trigeminal Nerve?
Touch and pain feelings from the face and head are transmitted to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve has three branches.
- One is responsible for carrying nerve impulses from the forehead, upper eyelids,
- The second branch handles the sensation in the lower eyelids, cheeks, nostrils,
upper lip, and upper gum.
- The third branch is responsible for the lower lip, lower gum, jaws, and a few
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
TN is also commonly known as tic douloureux. It is a chronic pain condition that affects several nerves in your face. A person may experience sudden and severe facial pain. The trigeminal nerve, which connects your face to your brain, is also affected. A person may experience a sharp shooting pain or an electric shock in the jaw, teeth, or gums. The pain can be constant but less severe. TN usually affects only one side of the face,
with pain originating in the lower region of the face. In some cases, both sides of the face are affected, but not always at the same time.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
- The primary symptom of TN includes sudden, severe, sharp, and shooting facial
- A person usually describes this pain as an electric shock.
- Patients typically experience pain in the teeth, lower jaw, upper jaw, or cheek.
- Pain affects one side of the face at a time.
- In some cases, a person may have pain in the forehead or eye.
- The pain becomes worse over time.
- The patient also experiences constant aching and burning feelings. It may occur
before it evolves into the spasm-like pain of trigeminal neuralgia.
- Tingling or numbness sensation in the face before pain develops.
Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Although the exact cause for the occurrence of TN is unknown, the pain associated with it is thought to be caused by nerve irritation. Two types of TN may include:
- Primary Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Secondary Trigeminal Neuralgia
Compression of the nerve has been linked to primary TN. It usually occurs in the base of the skull, where the brain connects the spinal cord. Trigeminal neuralgia is caused when a healthy artery or vein comes into contact with the trigeminal nerve at the base of the brain. It puts pressure on the nerve as it enters the brain, causing it to malfunction. Secondary TN is caused by a tumor, a cyst, a facial injury, or any other medical condition that damages the myelin sheaths.
Diagnosis and Testing
There are no specific diagnostic tests for TN. Moreover, its symptoms are similar to other facial pain disorders. Hence it can be challenging to diagnose TN. Specialists rely heavily on symptoms and patient history.
It is essential to seek medical attention immediately if you experience unusual, sharp pain around the eyes, lips, nose, jaw, forehead, or scalp. You should consult with your primary care physician about the issue. Later on, he may recommend you to a specialist.
The doctor performs physical and neurological examinations to understand the exact cause of pain. TN is usually diagnosed based on the description of the symptoms provided by the patient, detailed patient history, and clinical evaluation.
If the trigeminal nerve is affected by a tumor, it can be detected using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It shows whether a blood vessel is causing compression or
Treatment Options for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Healthcare providers use medications, surgery, and complementary therapies to treat TN.
Doctors may recommend tricyclic antidepressants to treat symptoms related to typical Trigeminal neuralgia. Botulinum toxin injections are utilized to block sensory nerves. The specialist may also suggest you the following anticonvulsant drugs to alleviate the symptoms of TN:
- Sodium valproate
If a patient does not respond to medications, a doctor may suggest surgery. Your specialist may recommend the procedure after analyzing the severity of the pain, the patient’s preference, physical health, and previous surgeries. Procedures to treat TN include:
- Balloon compression
- Glycerol injection rhizotomy
- Stereotactic rhizotomy
When to Seek Medical Advice
If you are experiencing constant or persistent facial pain, doctors will recommend standard painkillers, including paracetamol and ibuprofen. But in case these medications do not provide any relief, it is time to see a professional expert.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and rule out conditions that could be responsible for your pain.
At CMW, our team of experts offers cost-effective and reliable treatments for trigeminal neuralgia. Schedule an appointment with our Board-Certified surgeons and alleviate your pain today.