Trigeminal Neuralgia is a continuous painful condition – wherein you feel pain in the face. In this condition, some of the nerves in your face get affected – as a result you feel pain, which is intense and like an electric shock. It is a progressive disease, but not life-threatening.

Trigeminal nerve is a type of cranial nerve that helps in feeling sensations in your face. Each trigeminal nerve splits into three branches: ophthalmic branch – controls forehead, upper eyelid and eye; maxillary branch – controls lower eyelid, nostril, cheek, upper lip and upper gum; mandibular branch – controls jaw, lower gum, lower lip and the muscles involved in chewing.

The above three branches can get affected by the condition, which means you may feel pain from forehead to jaw. The pain is confined to one side of the face – but sometimes both the sides of your face may also get affected (bilateral trigeminal neuralgia).

Symptoms

·The pain is mostly felt in teeth, jaws, lips, cheeks and less frequently in eyes and forehead.

·Shooting, stabbing or intense pain for a brief period of time (lasting for about few seconds to several minutes).

·Pain is initiated and aggravated by washing face, shaving, brushing teeth or putting on makeup.

·Pain is felt only on one side of the face.

·The episodes of pain are often repeated and get worst over time.

·The pain attacks happen several times a day, week with some intermittent periods of no pain.

·Anxiety is often associated with pain in some people.

What are the causes of trigeminal neuralgia?

There are many causes for trigeminal neuralgia. A blood vessel may press the nerve damaging the protective sheath. Similarly, tumours, arteries and some diseases like multiple sclerosis that are capable of damaging the myelin sheath can cause pain. Brain stroke, accident or surgery can also cause trigeminal neuralgia.

Who are at risk of getting trigeminal neuralgia?

People older than 50, women and people with a family history of the condition and those with high blood pressure are at increased risk.

How is Trigeminal Neuralgia diagnosed?

If you have facial pain — especially sensations that keep coming back or don’t respond to over-the-counter pain relievers — make an appointment with your doctor.

You can approach to a doctor if your facial pain is intense, comes on repeatedly and doesn’t respond to over-the-counter pain relievers. The doctors might ask you some questions about your pain, its frequency, and then may does neurological examination to test your reflexes and to detect the compression of the nerve. If your physician suspects, a tumour or multiple sclerosis as an underlying cause an MRI might be recommended by the physician.

What is the Treatment?

Treatment options include both medications and surgery. Anticonvulsants are the medicines prescribed to keep the nerves from reacting to irritation. Similarly, muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants may also be prescribed to manage the symptoms.

Surgery: When medications affect subsides over a period of time – there are many surgical options ranging from day care procedures to surgeries requiring general anaesthesia. Your doctor can help you decide which surgery is right for you, based on your overall health, which nerves are involved, and your preferences.

Self-Care Approaches

Along with the medicines and other options, you can also explore alternative ways to manage the pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia. Such approaches include aromatherapy, hypnosis, meditation, yoga and acupuncture.