The trigeminal nerve is located in the head. It is one of the largest nerves in the head. It is one of 12 nerves connected to the brain. The trigeminal nerve connects our eyes, face, mouth, and forehead to the brain thus controlling its movement and activity. Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition when the trigeminal nerve is damaged due to an accident or the blood vessel pressing against the trigeminal nerve. The protective coating of nerves by myelin sheath undergoes damage upon the pressing by blood vessels resulting in trigeminal neuralgia.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is felt as a sudden but intensive pain in the cheeks or the jaws on one side of the face. The intensity of the pain is very difficult to manage. Taking treatment can help recover from the pain and reduce the onset of trigeminal neuralgia again. Generally, women are more prone to get Trigeminal neuralgia than men. Trigeminal neuralgia is more common and can even develop in kids.
The trigeminal neuralgia affects the trigeminal nerve connecting the head to the brain in the body. It affects the eyes, face, forehead and mouth (jaws and gums).
What Causes and Risk Factors of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia results in pain developing in one side of the face but spreading throughout. In rare cases, it gets developed on both sides of the face if the patient has multiple sclerosis. TN can develop pain in the lower, upper jaws, lips and gums, cheeks, nose, sides of the face, eyes and forehead.
The TN caused pain is also called a shock attack or stabbing attack which can be due to any of the following reasons:
- Washing the face
- Nose blowing or cleaning
- Touching the skin
- Drinking cold or hot drinks
- Facing strong wind or breeze
- Brushing the teeth
- Doing makeup
Although the correct reason for Trigeminal neuralgia is not known, in most cases, Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by one or a combination of the following factors:
The main reason for Trigeminal neuralgia is an injury to the trigeminal nerve. This can occur due to an accident, oral surgery, trauma
Disease like Multiple sclerosis can cause Trigeminal neuralgia.
Less common Factors
There are a few other factors which are less common and can be a cause of Trigeminal neuralgia can be the pressure on the nerve due to the formation of a tumorous cell, cysts or arteries
What are the Symptoms of Trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia has pain as the major symptom. The pain can form either of the following patterns:
- Sudden but shooting and intensive pain
- Pain attacks while chewing, talking, brushing or touching the face
- Pain attacks ranging from a few seconds or more
- Spasm or cramp in the facial muscle
- Recurrent pain attacks lasting for a longer time from weeks to months
- Pain develops on one side of the face and spreads all over the face.
- Pain attacks while sleeping
What are the types of trigeminal neuralgia?
TN1 or Type 1 trigeminal neuralgia
This develops more intense pain that is burning and sharp around the lips, nose, forehead, eyes and scalp. The pain spreads and lasts for a longer time.
TN2 or Type 2 trigeminal neuralgia
Pain caused by TN2 type of trigeminal neuralgia is less intensive but occurs as a constant pain around the lips, nose, forehead, eyes and scalp resulting in aching and burning pain.
What is the standard test for detecting Trigeminal neuralgia?
The symptoms of TN are very similar to the other facial disorders. There are no separate diagnosing tests for detecting TN. Thus, diagnosing can be a little challenging.
- In case of pain in the jaws, gums, nose, forehead, scalp, and lips, after any oral/ facial surgery, it is necessary to consult a doctor to understand the root cause of the problem. He will examine you neurologically and may refer you to a specialist.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan) can help detect the tumour or Multiple sclerosis pressing against the trigeminal nerve. The degree of compression is calculated with recent advancements in scanning methods. The doctor will treat you based on the history, symptoms and clinical evaluation.
How is Trigeminal neuralgia managed or treated?
The treatment for Trigeminal neuralgia usually depends on the patient’s overall health condition, and clinical history but it also includes factors such as age, area affected, cause of the Trigeminal neuralgia, and severity of Trigeminal neuralgia.
Some common Trigeminal Neuralgia treatment options include:
- Medications like carbamazepine, gabapentin, clonazepam, valproic acid, baclofen.
- Botox injection results are not satisfactory.
In the advanced stage of Trigeminal neuralgia, surgery is recommended. Surgery aims to either remove the damaged trigeminal nerve (microvascular decompression) or destroy it (brain stereotactic radiosurgery) using injection (Glycerol injection) or passing electricity. But, the procedure has the risk of making the face numb for the rest of its life.
How do you prevent Trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia can't be prevented but the risk can be reduced by the following measures:
- Avoid having hot or cold drinks.
- Eat foods at room temperature.
- Avoid washing your face with cold or hot water directly. Instead, use cotton
- Wash your mouth with lukewarm water after eating instead of brushing
- Avoid cold breeze
- Avoid touching your face often
The alternate name of Trigeminal neuralgia
The other names for Trigeminal neuralgia douloureux.
Epidemiology of Trigeminal Neuralgia
The estimated incidence of Trigeminal neuralgia is high in women compared to men.
Fortunately, recent advancements in diagnostic procedures, treatment options, and medication have drastically reduced the number of new cases of Trigeminal neuralgia and its associated complications.
Trigeminal neuralgia doesn’t spread to other organs of the body. With time Trigeminal neuralgia of the affected site causes severe pain. The patient has to get medical treatment else it can affect the movement of the face and head.
Trigeminal neuralgia causes severe, shock-like and sudden pain in the eyes, forehead, mouth, jaws, gums, lips, and nose due to damage to the trigeminal nerve spreading the pain all over the face.
Advanced Trigeminal neuralgia has possible complications resulting in severe damage to the trigeminal nerve causing intense pain spreading throughout the face and may affect the movement of the eyes, nose, mouth, and cheeks.
Our BLK-Max Medical Experts
If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the BLK-Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91-11-30403040