Trigeminal Neuralgia: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment

Trigeminal nerve.

There are few pains that cause as much disability and discomfort as pain related to the ear or toothaches. Luckily for the person who suffers from them, these are temporary and can be easily remedied.

Now, let’s imagine that these pains appear fortuitously and chronically and that, furthermore, the treatments could not make the pain subside permanently. This is what happens in trigeminal neuralgia, a very painful disorder which we will talk about next.

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

The condition known as trigeminal neuralgia It is a chronic and lacerating condition caused by an alteration in the trigeminal nerve or fifth cranial nerve This trigeminal nerve is one of the longest nerves in the skull.

Among the effects that trigeminal neuralgia causes in the person is a sensation similar to that caused by burning, which appears suddenly and fortuitously (Type I); In addition, these patients may also experience a sensation of intense, stabbing pain that can last up to two minutes (Type II). Hence this disease is also known as Tic douloureux.

The pain caused by this condition can be so intense that the person She is practically incapacitated both physically and mentally

To understand this condition well, it is necessary to know that this trigeminal nerve is part of the twelve pairs of cranial nerves that start from the base of the skull. Its function is to transport sensations between the brain and the upper, middle and lower areas of the face and to the oral cavity. This nerve is made up of three branches:

You may be interested:  Adjuvant Psychological Therapy: Definition, Characteristics and Techniques

In trigeminal neuralgia, more than one nerve branch can be affected, causing intense pain in any of the areas named above.

What symptoms does it present?

As mentioned above, the symptoms associated with trigeminal neuralgia are distinguished by causing the patient suffering or sharp, lacerating pain, similar to an electric shock that It is usually felt on one side of the jaw or on the cheek

These episodes of pain can occur on either side of the face. However, they never manifest themselves on both sides at the same time. The complete symptoms that can occur in trigeminal nerve neuralgia include:

In most cases, patients can anticipate the appearance of the episode since it tends to be preceded by sensations of tingling, stiffness or a slight but continuous sensation of pain.

One of the main characteristics of this symptomatology is that it appears suddenly and randomly. However, these incidents can be triggered by a vibration or contact with the cheek caused by any everyday action such as brushing your face or teeth, eating or even talking.

Although trigeminal neuralgia does not pose a risk to a person’s health, the pain it causes can be highly disabling, causing that the person refuses by all means to carry out those daily tasks that could cause a new crisis

What causes this type of neuralgia?

Although in many cases the cause of trigeminal neuralgia remains undetermined, There are a series of situations and diseases that cause the appearance of these episodes of such characteristic pain.

The contexts in which it can appear are:

You may be interested:  Does Schizophrenia Have a Cure?

How is it diagnosed?

At the moment, no type of specific test has been developed for the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia.

The steps to follow to make an accurate diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia are:

  • Examination of medical history of the person.
  • Description of symptoms.
  • Physical exam.
  • Comprehensive neurological examination
  • Performing neuroimaging studies to rule out the action of a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis.

What is the treatment and what is the prognosis?

As with the diagnosis, a treatment has not yet been discovered that has the ability to permanently eliminate the pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia.

However, there are several treatments or interventions that can significantly improve the patient’s situation These treatments include drug therapy, surgery, and other treatments or remedies.

1. Drug therapy

There are certain medications that usually help reduce pain and the number of attacks. Among these medications are:

  • Antiseizure medication: is the most effective and may include carbamazepine, topiramate or gabapentin.
  • Administration of opioids such as methadone when neither anticonvulsants nor surgery work.
  • Treatment through the use of low doses of antidepressants like nortriptyline.
  • Morphine derivatives such as dolantin.
  • botox injections in the nerve.

2. Surgery

A second option is the solution through certain types of surgeries. However, the effectiveness of its results is widely discussed by the medical community.

The main practice carried out in trigeminal neuralgia is microvascular decompression (MVD), through which the surgeon places an element between the nerve and the blood vessel that puts pressure.

Other strategies consist of undoing or sectioning some areas of the nerve root using the following techniques:

  • Glycerol injection
  • Radiosurgery.
  • Radiofrequency ablation.
  • Microcompression with percutaneous balloon.
You may be interested:  Motephobia (phobia of Moths): What it Is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

3. Other remedies

The person affected by trigeminal neuralgia can also benefit from the effects of alternative treatments such as acupuncture or chiropractic combined with medication, because of suggestion Likewise, the use of capsaicin creams, modification of eating habits or cyanocobalamin supplements may also be useful to reduce the intensity of symptoms.