Trigeminal Neuralgia, shortly denoted as TN is a condition, which is otherwise called as tic douloureux. It is a disease, wherein chronic pain that affects the trigeminal nerve present in the head. This condition can be simply addressed as a neuropathic pain. There are two types of this condition and they are TN1 and TN2.
TN1: In this type, the patients will experience a sudden shock-like or burning sensation in the face and this sensation may last either for a few seconds or for 2 minutes per episode. These episodes can last even for two hours continuously.
TN2: This is called as ‘atypical’ form of disorder and it is generally characterized by constant aching, burning sensation or a sharp pain. But, in this type the intensity of pain will be lower as against type 1.
There are chances that both these types can occur in the same patient at the same time. The severity of the pain can be both physically and emotionally debilitating.
What is trigeminal nerve? The trigeminal nerve is one of the 12 pairs of nerves that are connected to the brain. This particular nerve has three branches responsible for carrying out sensations from the lower, center and upper parts of the face and also the jaws to the brain. More than one of these three nerves can get affected by TN in some patients. Even, in some cases, both sides of the face may be affected at different times, but this happens only rarely. Other rarest chance is both sides of the face may be affected at the same time and in such a case, it is stated as bilateral Trigeminal neuralgia.
Causes of TN:
• When a blood vessel presses the trigeminal nerve, this pain is caused
• When this pressure is given, it may cause damage to the shielding outside layer around the nerve, which is called as the myelin sheath
• This sort of pain can occur in people with multiple sclerosis, which is a health issue that causes damage to the myelin sheath
• In some patients, this compression can be caused from a tumor or by an intertwining of arteries and veins.
• Injury caused to the trigeminal nerve due to facial trauma or stroke, oral or sinus surgery can also cause this pain in the face.
How it TN Diagnosed?
Before actually beginning the treatment, when the patient seeks the help of a neurologist, the other likely reasons of facial pain will be ruled out through a physical examination. An MRI scan will be conducted to diagnose the condition. If this scan does not reveal the compression of the nerve, special MRI imaging procedures will be conducted.
How is this condition treated?
The different choices for treatment include drugs, surgery and complementary treatments.
• Drugs: Anticonvulsant medicines like carbamazepine, phenytoin, pregabalin will be suggested.
• Surgery: If medications do not work out, surgical procedures will be suggested and there are two types of procedures called rhizotomy and neurectomy.
• Complementary approaches: Patients can also opt for alternative treatments like upper cervical chiropractic, vitamin therapy, acupuncture, nutritional therapy and biofeedback.