What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that is caused as a result of the main trigeminal nerve being affected. This condition results in severe pain in the facial region with even a mild stimulus such as everyday activities.
This condition usually begins with mild and short bouts of pain, but this condition is known to progress with time and the painful symptoms also worsen with it. This is found occurring more in women and especially in people over the age of 50 years.
What are the signs and symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
These are the common signs and symptoms of the trigeminal neuralgia condition:
- Bouts of severe and shooting pain (almost like an electric shock) in the face
- Instantaneous bouts of pain, caused by everyday activities such as brushing teeth, chewing, touching the face or even speaking
- Facial pain attacks may last from several seconds to a few minutes
- Series of frequent bouts of pain that last days, weeks or even months
- Chronic burning/aching sensation that occurs in spasms
- Severe pain in the cheek, teeth, jaw, lips, gums, forehead and the eye at times as well
- Pain may affect only one side of the face, or even both the sides
- Pain may be static in one spot or may be spread over the facial region
- Facial pain attacks get more severe and frequent with time
What are the causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
In trigeminal neuralgia the main facial nerve (trigeminal nerve) is affected in such a way that is does not function normally and becomes hyper-active. The trigeminal nerve may be mostly due to the pressure being put by a blood vessel on the trigeminal nerve at the base of the brain. This undue pressure on the trigeminal nerve results in it not malfunctioning.
Another cause for trigeminal neuralgia is aging. Or it can be a collateral effect of another medical disease or disorder, such as multiple sclerosis, which might cause the myelin sheath to get damaged and the trigeminal nerves get exposed. Another rare cause of trigeminal neuralgia is a tumor at the base of the brain that might be compressing the trigeminal nerve.
Other causes of trigeminal neuralgia are brain abnormalities such as lesions, stroke, facial trauma or a surgical injury.
These are the specific everyday activities that act as triggers for severe facial pain when a person is suffering from trigeminal neuralgia:
- Touching the face
- Brushing teeth
- Breeze on the face
- Applying make-up
- Washing face
How is Trigeminal Neuralgia diagnosed?
The main initial diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia is based on several observations regarding the facial pain made by the doctor, such as:
These three points of observation help the doctor to suspect the development of trigeminal neuralgia. The doctor may suggest further detailed diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of the trigeminal neuralgia condition.
These are the various diagnostic tests that help the doctor identify possible causes for the development of this condition, and form an effective plan of treatment for it:
- Neurological Examination – Physically examining every portion of the facial region can help determine the exact location of the pain and identify the specific branches of the trigeminal nerve that are being affected. Reflex tests can help to determine if a compressed nerve is the cause of the trigeminal neuralgia or it is being caused by another factor.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan – An MRI scan may be advised in case the doctor suspects an underlying condition (such as multiple sclerosis or tumor) to be the cause of the trigeminal neuralgia.
How is Trigeminal Neuralgia treated?
The initial treatment for trigeminal neuralgia involves using medicinal drugs and is mostly successfully treated with it too.
However, in some cases the patient might develop certain side-effects to the medicinal drugs, or they may stop responding to the drug completely over time. For such cases, the doctor will suggest an injection or a surgical treatment.
In case the cause for the trigeminal neuralgia in the patient is found to have been caused as a result of an underlying medical disorder or diseases then the doctor will start medicinal treatment of that underlying medical condition.
The medicinal drugs are designed to block/lessen the hyper-active pain signals being sent by the affected trigeminal nerve to the brain. These can be in the form of anticonvulsants that numb the nerves for some time. Anti-spasmodic (muscle-relaxants) agents are also used to relax the muscles while Botox injections may also help fight the pain for people whose medication has stopped having the desired effect.
The surgical treatment method for relieving the trigeminal neuralgia symptoms aims to stop the blood vessel from pressing on the trigeminal nerve at the base of the brain, or the doctor might chose to damage the malfunctioning (hyper-sensitive) trigeminal nerve and stop it from sending false pain signals to the brain.
Surgery for trigeminal neuralgia may include:
- Micro-vascular Decompression – This surgery aims to either, shift aside, or completely removes the affected trigeminal nerve root. The surgeon will require making an incision behind the ear at the side of the pain. The surgeon then removes the blood vessels (mainly arteries) that are in abnormal contact with the trigeminal nerve. The next step involves placing a pad between the nerve and the artery to maintain the distance between them.
- Gamma Knife Radiosurgery – This procedure requires the surgeon to use a focused beam of radiation and destroy the trigeminal nerve in order to stop its malfunctioning and the resultant bouts of severe facial pain. This surgery shows almost immediate results with disappearance of the symptoms.
Why choose Travcure for Efficient Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment in India?
Travcure is the leader in providing the most efficient and convenient medical tourism packages in India. It is well-connected to this large and wide network of global-class hospitals and clinics that are spread across the country in all its major cities, especially Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, etc. These are truly global-quality healthcare facilities that are equipped with the latest and most modern medical technology. Travcure offers every patient from abroad with a bespoke treatment package that allows for the most efficient and affordable trigeminal neuralgia treatment in India at the hands of the most experienced neurologists and neurological specialists.