What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a chronic pain condition or inflammation of the trigeminal nerve that causes facial pain. This condition is referred to as tic douloureux since the intense pain can cause patients to contort their face into a grimace causing the head to move away from the pain, a condition called a tic.
Trigeminal nerve sends impulses of pain, touch, pressure and temperature directly to the brain from areas such as the face, gums, jaw, forehead and around the eyes. The pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia is quite intense and may occur in few hours, minutes or seconds. The outcome can be months or years of attack but in some patients it can be fully controlled.
Trigeminal Neuralgia have been known to affect people of any age, but it is more common in people older than 60 years old. The effects are seen in the right side of the face five times more than the left side.
What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?
In the vast majority of the common cases, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by compression of the main nerve to the brain, trigeminal nerve. This nerve is the largest in the skull. This compression is caused by a nearby blood vessel pressing on the main nerve inside the skull.
What are the Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal Neuralgia is characterized by a sudden, sharp, electric-like, or stabbing pain that may last for several seconds. The pain mostly occurs on the face and around the eyes, lips, nose, scalp and forehead. These symptoms can be transferred from one person to another by brushing the teeth, touching the face, putting on make-up, swallowing or even feeling just a slight breeze.
Being one of the most painful disorders, the pain is felt on one side of the jaw or cheek though different people experience pain at different times on both sides. The attack result to a sharp pain that may be repeated one after the other. This pain may come and go throughout the day lasting for days, weeks or months. The disorder may be seen to disappear for months or years. It is more frequent in women than men and in rare cases does it affect younger than 50 years of age.
How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Diagnosed?
In diagnosing this condition, your pain management doctor in San Diego will first take a history of the situation and perform a physical examination which should be normal. The main area of test is muscle weakness and presence of corneal reflex controlled by V1. V3 is in control of chewing, and there should be no existence of muscle weakness. When the cornea is touched, the eye should blink in response. The two discoveries must be normal if not, the treatment for trigeminal nerve should begin.
Some pain management doctors in San Diego may order for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to help in the diagnosis of other conditions that may cause trigeminal neuralgia. This disorder is diagnosed based on the description of the patient’s symptoms.
How can Trigeminal Neuralgia Be Treated?
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a long term condition. It can be managed through treatment to some degree. The first treatment to be administered by a pain clinic San Diego should be with an anticonvulsant medication (mostly used to treat epilepsy) called carbamazepine. This medication should be taken several times in a day, with an increase of the dose over the course of few days or weeks so that the medication can build up in your bloodstream.
Trigeminal neuralgia can also be treated with antiseizure drugs including Neurontin (gabapentin) or Tegretol (carbamazepine). Other medication like Depakote and Klonopin may also be quite effective when used in combination with other drugs to achieve pain relief.
If the treatments turn out to be ineffective, neurosurgical procedures are available to relieve pressure on the nerves and also reduce the amount of sensitivity on the nerves. Some patients have shown successive or reduced pain with the help of medical therapies such as chiropractic treatment, acupuncture adjustments as well self-hypnosis.
Well, these treatment options will help you achieve the very best when relieving pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia. To learn more about them, contact a pain clinic San Diego today.