Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve which carries sensation from your face to your brain.
In trigeminal neuralgia, the nerve's function is disrupted. Usually, the problem is contact between a normal blood vessel, an artery or a vein, and the trigeminal nerve and causes it to malfunction. Trigeminal neuralgia can occur as a result of aging, or it can be related to multiple sclerosis or a similar disorder that damages the myelin sheath protecting certain nerves. Less commonly, trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by a tumor compressing the trigeminal nerve.
A variety of triggers may set off the pain of trigeminal neuralgia including:
Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms may include one or more of these patterns:
Your physician will diagnose trigeminal neuralgia based on your description of the pain you're having which includes:
Your physician may conduct many tests to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia and determine underlying causes for your condition. These tests can include a neurological exam to touch and examine parts of your face to help determine exactly where the pain is occurring and if you appear to have trigeminal. Reflex tests can also help your physician determine if your symptoms are caused by a compressed nerve or another condition. Your physician may order an MRI scan of your head to determine if multiple sclerosis or a tumor is causing trigeminal neuralgia. In some cases, a dye may be injected into a blood vessel to view the arteries and veins and highlight blood flow.
Trigeminal neuralgia treatment usually starts with medications. Other patients do not respond to medications or may experience side effects, so injections or surgery are other treatment options.
Medications will lessen or block the pain signals sent to your brain and include Anticonvulsants, Antispasmodic agents (muscle relaxing agents) or botox injections. Always consult your physician for the medication that's best for you.
The goal of trigeminal neuralgia surgery is to stop the blood vessel from compressing the trigeminal nerve or damage the nerve to keep it from malfunctioning. Damaging the nerve often causes temporary or permanent facial numbness, and with any of the surgical procedures, the pain can return months or years later.
Surgical options include:
Please talk to your physician or schedule a consultation to determine what is best for you.