When you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, it can be a literal pain in the neck to manage extreme discomfort and daily disruption brought about by this incurable condition. Find out the definition of trigeminal neuralgia, symptoms, and treatment options to help manage your life.
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a disorder of the cranial nerves and is considered one of the most painful medical conditions known to modern medicine.
Twelve cranial nerves control head and neck muscle and sensory functions that directly connect to the body. The fifth nerve, Cranial Nerve V, is called the trigeminal nerve because it is comprised of three branches responsible for facial and oral sensations:
- The upper branch (ophthalmic branch) supplies sensation to most of the scalp, forehead, and front of the head
- The middle branch (maxillary branch) stimulates the cheek, upper jaw, top lip, teeth and gums, and to the side of the nose
- The lower branch (mandibular) supplies nerves to the lower jaw, teeth and gums, and bottom lip
What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?
There is not one particular factor causing trigeminal neuralgia to form. Rather, a variety of conditions are associated with trigeminal neuralgia:
- A blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brainstem
- Wearing away or damage to the protective coating around the nerve (the myelin sheath).
- Multiple sclerosis
- Nerve compression from a tumor or tangle of arteries and veins
- Injury to the trigeminal nerve
What are Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Some forms of trigeminal neuralgia cause symptoms constantly; others occur suddenly or without a pattern. Episodes can last from a few seconds up to two minutes in length. While symptoms can range from mild to severe, people with trigeminal neuralgia may experience the following:
- Facial pain, often triggered by chewing, speaking, or brushing the teeth
- Muscle spasms
- Sudden or constant burning, aching, tingling, stabbing, or shocking sensation
Because the pain can be debilitating, trigeminal neuralgia has the potential to cause depression and destroy people’s ability to function in daily life. Relationships, employment, and quality of life can also suffer due to such intense levels of pain.
While trigeminal neuralgia usually occurs in people over 50 years of age, it can affect anyone, especially young adults with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Trigeminal Neuralgia
If you suspect you have trigeminal neuralgia, a medical professional will conduct a neurological exam to check reflexes and nerve functioning. Additional tests, such as a MRI, may be ordered. The medical professional will also rule out other types of diseases and conditions to ensure trigeminal neuralgia is the cause of your symptoms.
While some treatment may involve surgery or medications, those types of treatment can actually make the condition worse. Several other treatment options exist to help control pain. Some people have had success with the following:
- Vitamin therapy
- Nutritional therapy
Find Relief from Trigeminal Neuralgia at Dynamic Health Carolinas
If you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia and want relief, Dynamic Health Carolinas will give you a free consultation, including x-rays (if needed). We offer advanced diagnostic technology and proven treatment protocols to take a multidisciplinary approach to relieving your discomfort caused by trigeminal neuralgia.
Read success stories of how we have helped Charlotte area residents manage pain.