Living with trigeminal neuralgia can be challenging and may adversely affect the quality of life. This causes a series of shock-like or stabbing pains in the cheek or jaw that can last from seconds to minutes and usually only affect one side of the face. The condition is not hereditary, and in most cases, no specific cause can be found – although pressure from a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve may play a role.
Doctors may also suggest a CT or an MRI scan of the brain and the area around the trigeminal nerve to find a blood vessel, tumour or other condition that could be causing TN. Treatment for TN may include medications to block pain signals or reduce inflammation. Let’s dive in to understand their symptoms, causes and treatment options.
Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia
The main symptom of trigeminal neuralgia is a sudden, intense, and sharp pain in the face that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. The pain is often triggered by activities such as eating, talking, or brushing the teeth. Other symptoms may include:
- Tingling or numbness in the face
- Muscle spasms in the face
- Pain that is unilateral (affects only one side of the face)
Causes of trigeminal neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Pressure on the trigeminal nerve from a blood vessel or tumour
- Multiple sclerosis
- Injury to the nerve
How is trigeminal neuralgia diagnosed?
Trigeminal neuralgia is typically diagnosed based on a patient’s medical history and a physical examination. In some cases, imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be used to rule out other possible causes of the pain.
Treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia
Treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia may include:
Medications such as anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants (antispasmodic agents), and botox injections can relieve symptoms.
If medication doesn’t provide adequate relief, surgery is an option for some people with TN. Several different types of operations are available, and the doctor will discuss which is best for each person.
Brain stereotactic radiosurgery (Gamma knife) – Typically, the surgeon will use a gamma knife to deliver radiation to the root of the trigeminal nerve, which forms a lesion on the nerve and interrupts its transmission of pain signals.
Microvascular decompression – Another surgical option is microvascular decompression, a procedure that finds a blood vessel that could be pushing against the trigeminal nerve. This surgery requires general anaesthesia and carries some risks of facial numbness, decreased hearing and stroke.
Radiofrequency thermal lesioning – A less invasive procedure is radiofrequency thermal lesioning. The surgeon inserts a needle into the cheek and applies heat to the trigeminal nerve until a lesion forms, blocking the pain signals.
When to Consult a Doctor
You can also get in touch with the expert Nephrology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during an injury, disorder or any other health concern.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a painful and debilitating condition that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. However, there are a variety of treatment options available that can help manage the pain and improve quality of life. If the person has symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, it is important to talk to the doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Q. What is trigeminal neuralgia?
A. Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensations from the face to the brain. It causes sudden, intense, and sharp pain in the face, lasting from a few seconds to minutes. The pain is often triggered by activities such as eating, talking, or brushing teeth. Other symptoms include tingling or numbness in the face and muscle spasms.
Q. What causes trigeminal neuralgia?
A. Trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by factors such as pressure on the nerve from a blood vessel or tumour, multiple sclerosis, injury to the nerve, ageing, and genetics.
Q. What are the common symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?
A. The main symptom of trigeminal neuralgia is sudden, intense, and sharp pain in the face.
Q. How is trigeminal neuralgia diagnosed?
A. Trigeminal neuralgia is usually diagnosed based on a patient’s medical history and physical examination. In some cases, imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan may be used to rule out other possible causes of pain.
Q. What is the treatment for trigeminal neuralgia?
A. Treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia may include medications (anticonvulsants or muscle relaxants), surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve, stereotactic radiosurgery to target the nerve with radiation, and nerve blocks to numb the affected area temporarily.