Trigeminal Neuralgia is a painful condition wherein a patient suffers attacks of facial pain. The pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia is shooting and jabbing, much like sudden burst of live wires on the face. While these episodes of pain may be few and far between in the initial stages, the attacks are more frequent and painful as the disease progresses. It can be felt on a small portion of the face or the larger area. In most cases, it affects just one side of the face. The trigeminal nerve, originating from deep in the brain serves the facial area. Any disturbance in its function leads to trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux. The possible causes for the pain are stroke, tumor or multiple sclerosis. Usually this disorder is noticed in persons over 50 years and women seem to be more affected by it than men.
The pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia is so intense that it affects the day-to-day life of the patient. Activities like eating, drinking, shaving, brushing the teeth and talking can become agonizing. Consequently, it leads to anxiety and irritability and nutritional deficiencies since the patient is likely to avoid eating. A patient may need to be hospitalized if the pain is acute. An MRI of the head may be suggested to aid diagnosis.
Trigeminal Neuralgia is treated with carbamazepine - a drug used to treat seizures and convulsions. Other drugs include baclofen, gabapentin, clonazepam, lamotrigine, topiramate and sodium valporate. But these drugs are not without unpleasant side effects. Percutaneous stereotactic radio frequency thermal rhizotomy (PSRTR) is a procedure whereby a doctor passes electric current to damage the nerve fibers that cause pain. Alternatively MVD (Microvascular decompression) can also ease pain without damaging any part of the trigeminal nerve. But there are inherent risks such as facial weakness or reduced hearing. High dose radiation is used to damage the root of the trigeminal nerve. This can be successful in reducing pain. Percutaneous glycerol rhizotomy (PGR) is a surgical procedure involving injection of small amounts of sterile glycerol into the skin to block pain signals.
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: July 20, 2019