Trigeminal neuralgia is classified as a chronic pain condition. It is triggered by the trigeminal nerve, which is the nerve responsible for carrying feelings and sensations from the face to the brain.
In the case of trigeminal neuralgia, any activity that involves touching the face, such as brushing your teeth or even wiping your face with a cloth, can sent a jolt of pain through your face and head.
When the chronic pain condition develops, the patient usually starts to experience it very mildly, only expressing pain in short, mild jolts. However, trigeminal neuralgia has the possibility of progressing, making each bout of pain longer and sharper. This searing pain can build up to intolerable levels, making even the softest of touches – like a kiss – unbearable.
This condition is most common in women over the age of 50; however, everyone can develop this condition.
TN is connected to several conditions. It can be caused by pressure from a blood vessel on the trigeminal nerve. Symptoms may also present in patients with multiple sclerosis. On rare occasions, tumors or arteriovenous malformations (an entanglement of arteries) may cause trigeminal neuralgia. Trauma to the trigeminal nerve may produce symptoms as well.
Dr. Yashar will review a patient’s entire health history and symptoms presented in order to determine what further testing is needed. Dr. Yashar will work with specialists, such as neurologists as well to obtain specialized testing.
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What are the Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Patients may experience one or more of the following symptoms in order to be classified as trigeminal neuralgia:
● Spontaneous pain attacks triggered by chewing, brushing the teeth, or speaking
● Longer episodes of pain that feel like being electrocuted
● Consistent pain in gums, lips, teeth, cheek, jaws, eyes, or forehead
● Pain on one side of the face at a time (rarely both sides at once)
● Sharp pain in the face that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes
● An aching or burning feeling that turns into a spasm of pain
● Pain focused specifically on one area of the face, such as the cheek or jaw
● Pain that is triggered in a pattern around the face
What are the Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia?There are many reasons why a patient may develop trigeminal neuralgia over time. The most common cause of this condition is when the trigeminal nerve’s function is interrupted. This happens when a normal blood vessel comes into contact with it. This applies pressure to the nerve, causing it to ‘malfunction’. Other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or other nerve-related disorders can damage the trigeminal nerve in other ways. Some cases of trigeminal neuralgia develop due to aging. More serious occurrences, such as a brain lesion or a stroke, can also trigger trigeminal neuralgia. Activities like brushing the teeth, putting on makeup, smiling, speaking, or eating can be serious triggers for this condition.
Trigeminal Neuraliga TreatmentTreatment options include medicines, surgery, and complementary approaches. Dr. Yashar will recommend the best course of treatment which may include medication and/or surgery. Currently the surgical options for Trigeminal Neuralgia include Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, Percutaneous Balloon Compression and Microvascular Decompression.
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