Synapse Pain & Spine Clinic

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment in Chennai

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal Neuralgia is a type of facial pain / headache that causes sharp, shooting pain on  one side of the face. It is one of the most agonizing pain one can have. The pain is so intense it is also referred to as the suicide disease.

What are the symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?

In trigeminal neuralgia, one side of the face or head is usually affected by a sharp, shooting pain which feels sort of like an electric shock. Across either side of the face, three different nerves transmit sensation from the trigeminal nerves. The face may be affected by trigeminal pain in different ways. Painful episodes usually last for only a few minutes at first. Gradually the pain becomes more permanent. It is more common in older adults over the age of 50 years. It is slightly more common in women.

What triggers Trigeminal Pain attacks?

Trivial things like cold air can trigger trigeminal neuralgia pain, touch, speaking, shaving, brushing teeth, and chewing food. A person may feel pain on their cheeks, lips, nose, ears, eyes, teeth, jaw, scalp, or any part of their face. Affected sides of the face are typically only one. In contrast with migraine headaches, trigeminal pain does not vary by side of the face.

It is common to find trigeminal neuralgia patients unwilling or unable to speak. To avoid contact with the touch or air, they may cover this part of their face. Most of the time, they think their problem is dental and visit the dentist.

What causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Occasionally, a blood vessel will compress the Trigeminal nerve near its exit from the skull, resulting in Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain. The trigeminal nerve can be injured by such compression,  causing shooting pain. Increasing compression leads to longer durations of pain over time. This is not true in all Trigeminal sufferers. Other causes like multiple sclerosis, aneurysms, tumors, postherpetic neuralgias can also cause Trigeminal Neuralgia.

How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Diagnosed?

An assessment by a neuro physician or pain specialist is recommended if Trigeminal Neuralgia is suspected. The physician may require an MRI or CT of the brain after obtaining the clinical history and performing a neurological examination. Treatment is started as soon as a diagnosis is confirmed.

How is Trigeminal Neuralgia treated?

Trigeminal Neuralgia is initially treated with carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbazepine, gabapentin, pregabalin, baclofen, etc. It is typical to start at a low dose and adjust it to its effects. Medication can be used to control the mild pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia. There can be side effects associated with taking long-term medications. 

How do you treat trigeminal neuralgia with advanced treatments?

If oral medications do not provide adequate, satisfactory pain relief or if there are medication-related side effects, other advanced options are available. An alternative newer treatment for sufferers of Trigeminal Neuralgia is radiofrequency ablation. Trigeminal neuralgia can be treated safely and effectively with radiofrequency thermal ablation under radiographic guidance. It is a daycare procedure performed under IV sedation. Once RF ablation is completed, the patient can stop taking the usual oral medications. Radiofrequency ablation of trigeminal ganglion is a pain interventional procedure that can be repeated if necessary in the future.

Radiofrequency ablations are also suitable for trigeminal pain sufferers over the age of 50. By now, RF ablations have replaced methods such as glycerol injections and balloon compression. The majority of insurance companies, including the government schemes, approve RF ablation for trigeminal neuralgia sufferers.

Is surgery effective in treating Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Patients whose symptoms cannot be controlled with oral medications and conservative treatment should consider surgery. Among younger patients with trigeminal neuralgia, it may be suitable for those with secondary causes such as tumours or Trigeminal Neuralgia. Neurosurgeons offer surgeries called microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia. The risk and cost involved in microvascular decompression surgery is higher. If performed successfully, these neurosurgeries can provide long term pain relief. Thanks to the advent of all the treatments mentioned above, Trigeminal Neuralgia sufferers don’t have to suffer in pain anymore.

There are pain interventions that are very effective and safe for treating Trigeminal Neuralgia. Trigeminal Ganglion RF Ablation is the Safest and Most effective Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia.

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