Trigeminal Neuralgia

TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA is an extremely severe facial pain with sudden shock-like attacks which tends to come and go unpredictably. The pain is normally triggered, and is described as stabbing, shooting, excruciating or burning. It usually lasts for a few seconds but there can be many bursts of pain in quick succession.

Though it is not life-threatening, but the pain variously described as burning, stabbing, or like an electric shock — is severe enough to cause physical and emotional distress in many patients.

Typically, in initial stages the pain will come and go, with painful episodes lasting only a few seconds and with long intervals between attacks. As the condition becomes severe the pain becomes constant or the smaller intervals between the pain episodes.  Sleep gives instant relief, but pains resume upon awakening.

The trigeminal nerve is the source of the pain, also known as the fifth cranial nerve, or CNV. The trigeminal nerve transmits signals between the brain and the face, eyes, and teeth as well as the muscles that control chewing. (If you’ve ever experienced a “brain freeze” from slurping a milk shake or a frozen drink, you’ve met your trigeminal nerve.) There are two trigeminal nerves, one on each side of the face. It has three branches: the ophthalmic nerve, the maxillary nerve, and the mandibular nerve. Trigeminal neuralgia can affect any of the nerve, but is most commonly a condition of the maxillary and mandibular nerves.

Episodes of trigeminal neuralgia can be spontaneous, or they can be triggered with mild stimulation of the face (such as shaving, applying makeup, chewing, washing, and even exposure to wind). When the condition progresses, the attacks can grow in duration, intensity, and frequency.

Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia:

The pain can come in sharp spans that feel like electric shocks. Pain generally occurs on one side of the face and may trigger by sound or touch. Pain can be triggered by even routine acts, including:

  • brushing your teeth
  • shaving
  • touching your face
  • eating or drinking
  • speaking
  • a breeze on your face

You may experience bouts of pain that last only a few seconds or minutes. A series of attacks can last days, weeks, or months, followed by periods of remission.

The condition can progress, with attacks increasing in severity and frequency. In some cases, the pain or ache becomes constant.

Proper treatment is essential to treat Trigeminal Neuralgia. Discussing the treatment options with our Pain Management Specialist will help you decide on the most appropriate option. Complementary techniques and meditation may also help with some of your symptoms. Reach Advanced Spine and Knee Hospital today before starting any alternative treatments, as these may interact with other medications.


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