Trigeminal neuralgia, often known as Douloureux syndrome, is a condition that is characterized by severe facial pain that may disrupt your daily routine. Simple things like eating, talking, or smiling while brushing your teeth or shaving may trigger short episodes of intense pain. While these pain episodes may be temporary, the pain may be recurrent (on or off). You may also suffer from constant pain, but not as intense.
Typically, trigeminal nerve pain only affects one side of your face. If it’s bilateral, it will affect both sides but it’s not the same at all times. Bilateral trigeminal neuralgia is extremely uncommon. It is interesting to note that faces on the right are generally more affected than the left.
Each year, 150,000 people suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, and this is roughly 4.3 new cases for every 100,000 individuals. Trigeminal neuralgia afflicts those older than 50 more severely than those younger than 40, which is classified as extremely rare. The condition also affects women more often than men and is considered a rare disorder.
Types of Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Type 1 Trigeminal Neuralgia:
You will likely suffer from painful episodes which are sharp, intense, and occasionally. There may be pain or an uncomfortable burning sensation on your face, and it can last up to a couple of seconds to 2 minutes. While there may be no pain intervals between episodes, the pain can last two hours.
- Type 2 Trigeminal Neuralgia:
It’s less intense and painful but more prevalent. You will likely experience constant discomfort, including stabbing or burning sensations, as well as continuous pains and aches. If you suffer from atypical trigeminal neuralgia, you may experience more difficulty controlling symptoms.
Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
There is a diversity of circumstances that can cause trigeminal neuralgia. However, it’s usually the result of a blood vessel that exerts tension on your nerves close to the brain’s stem. The condition may result from the presence of a tumor or a lesion that presses on your nerves, although this isn’t as prevalent. Suppose you harm your trigeminal nerve due to dental or sinus surgery or a stroke, or facial trauma. In that case, you could suffer from facial nerve pain similar to symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia.
How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?
The symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia can be managed with surgical medications and other treatments.
- Anticonvulsant drugs:
Carbamazepine is usually the first choice to treat discomfort caused by trigeminal nerve pain. Your best trigeminal neuralgia specialists may prescribe other anticonvulsant medicines such as phenytoin, oxcarbazepine lamotrigine, sodium-valproate gabapentin, clonazepam, and topiramate.
- Tricyclic Antidepressants:
Amitriptyline or Nortriptyline are among the most commonly used medications within this category. They are typically used to treat trigeminal neuralgia symptoms.
- Muscle relaxants:
Baclofen can be used by itself or in combination with carbamazepine, or phenytoin.
If you aren’t responding in any way to these medicines or suspect that your condition is getting worse over time, you might be an ideal potential candidate for surgery. You’re offered a range of surgical alternatives. The neuralgia doctor is likely to recommend one according to the intensity of the pain, your preferences, your health condition before surgeries, and the procedure’s risks and advantages. In addition, it’s harder to operate on patients who suffer from trigeminal neuralgia.
The surgeon will place a tube, known as a cannula, into your cheeks, all the way towards the trigeminal nerve. Then, they will place a catheter with an inflatable balloon into the tube. The balloon is then inflated, compressing the nerve-damaging nerves responsible for pain. The physician removes the catheter and balloon after the procedure. The procedure has been proven to ease symptoms for one to two years. However, it could cause discomfort in the face.
Glycerol injection rhizotomy:
The surgeon injects the glycerol with a needle in the nerve’s center, just where it divides into three branches. By injecting glycerol directly into the trigeminal nerve’s root, this procedure triggers selective nerve damage, disrupting the body’s ability to send pain messages to the brain. The procedure can reduce pain for up to 2 to 3 years, although it is possible to repeat it several times. The procedure may also cause some facial numbness and the sensation of tingling. Consult a Best Hospital in Coimbatore and get a cure for the condition.
The surgeon will place an instrument through your cheek up to the top of your skull. Then, they’ll use the needle to deliver an electric current to pinpoint the exact region of pain along the trigeminal nerve. They’ll then apply heating on the nerve until lesions are formed, destroying the nerve fibers. Most patients who choose the procedure notice their symptoms returning after 3 to 4 years. It is possible to feel the sensation of numbness in your face due to this treatment.
Microvascular decompression is an invasive surgical procedure. It’s usually the most effective of these techniques since it can provide relief from pain for as long as 10-years (over 70 percent of patients have experienced some relief from discomfort). This process aims to offer a comprehensive solution to heal the trigeminal nerve in a standard, pain-free condition. Reach out to a Pain Relief Centre in Coimbatore to get treatment for the condition.
Stereotactic radiosurgery employs Gamma Knife, CyberKnife, or LINAC procedure to deliver a highly concentrated amount of radiation to the trigeminal nerve root, which joins the stem of your brain. It could take a few weeks before you start to feel this surgery’s effects. Stereotactic radiosurgery is generally effective in eliminating symptoms for three years.