5 Common Symptoms Of Trigeminal Neuralgia And What To Do To Treat This Condition

Lifestyle & Health

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a long-term condition that causes facial pain. It develops when the trigeminal nerve (5th cranial nerve), which is responsible for sending facial sensation signals to your brain, becomes compressed, inflamed, or damaged. Trigeminal nerve has three branches: the ophthalmic branch, the maxillary branch, and the mandibular branch, responsible for sensations in the upper, middle, and lower areas of your face respectively. The whole nerve or one of the branches may be affected by TN. The pain is usually felt on one side of the face, but it can affect the whole face, in which case it’s called bilateral trigeminal neuralgia.

The condition can be severe and have a negative impact on the quality of your life, sometimes leading to depression and anxiety. But TN can be treated with medicines, or surgery if drugs didn’t work.

What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?

People who have trigeminal neuralgia may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • facial pain that can be described as stabbing, shooting, aching or burning and may feel like an electric shock;
  • pain can affect one area of the face or the whole face, in some cases;
  • the pain is brought on by facial movement (such as when you talk or chew), touching the face (such as when shaving or putting on makeup), or exposure to the wind;
  • the attacks of pain may last for a few seconds to a few minutes, or the pain may be persistent but less severe;
  • periods of attacks can last for days, weeks, or even months and alternate with periods of remission.

Trigeminal neuralgia may be progressive, meaning the pain becomes more severe and frequent over time.

Who is more likely to be affected by trigeminal neuralgia?

The condition affects 10-12 people in 100,000 annually. TN is more common in women than in men. Most people who develop TN are older than 50, but the condition can affect anyone at any age.

Trigeminal neuralgia can develop as a result of following:

  • multiple sclerosis, which damages the protective covering of the nerves;
  • a blood vessel or tumor pressing on the nerve;
  • injury to the trigeminal nerve resulting from a facial trauma, stroke, or surgery;
  • other conditions, including Lyme disease, sarcoidosis, scleroderma, and lupus.

Sometimes, the cause of trigeminal neuralgia isn't known.

How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?

Medicines to relieve the pain include anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants, and tricyclic antidepressants. If medicines become ineffective, the next option is surgery. There is a variety of surgical procedures for TN; discuss with your doctor which one is best for you.

Some people also try complementary treatments such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, and meditation to ease their symptoms.

Source: NINDS, Mayo Clinic, WebMD, HealthLine, MedicineNet

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.

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