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What is trigeminal neuralgia? Is this a type of condition that can affect anyone? Can you prevent it? Is there a way to treat it? Many people have questions about this chronic condition and their possible options.
Naturally, there are numerous ways you can improve the situation, but it is not always easy. In some cases, having facial surgery is a way to solve all the problems and allow yourself to continue with your life.
What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Before we go into all the details about trigeminal neuralgia and whether there are any treatments possible, you should know what this condition is. Trigeminal neuralgia or TN is a sudden and severe facial pain. It is also known as tic douloureux, and the condition is chronic.
The reason behind the name is that it affects the trigeminal nerve, which is the fifth cranial nerve (or CN V). When this nerve is affected, the patient will feel pain in other parts of their face and head.
People who experienced TN report a sharp and sudden pain in the jaw, gums, and face, the pain is unpredictable, and it can last for up to a couple of minutes.
There are two main types of trigeminal neuralgia. Type 1 will cause extreme pain, start suddenly, and last for a couple of minutes. It is also possible for these episodes to occur close together, and they can last for a couple of hours.
This is also considered the typical or classic type of TN. The second one, Type 2, is atypical, and the primary characteristic is constant burning and aching. It is worth mentioning that the pain is not as severe as with Type 1, but it is possible to have both types at the same time.
The therapy and potential treatments will mostly depend on the type of condition. More severe cases will be challenging to treat, but it is still possible. And there are ways to battle the situation effectively.
What Causes It?
In most cases, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by a nerve lesion or nerve injury. It is a neuropathic pain, and it can last for quite some time. People who are over the age of 50 are more likely to suffer from TN, but it is something that can affect anyone.
It is also possible for trigeminal neuralgia to appear during infancy, and the disorder is more common among women. It is also worth mentioning that trigeminal neuralgia can also be caused by other medical conditions.
This includes multiple sclerosis, a tumor that can cause nerve compression, blood vessels that could press on the trigeminal nerve, various injuries, a tangle of arteries (also known as arteriovenous malformation), and so on.
Since any chronic pain can be a huge problem for people, you should know more about the symptoms and signs of trigeminal neuralgia. The main symptom of TN is a sudden and sharp pain in the face area.
It can last between a couple of seconds to a few minutes. The pain can continue on a daily (or weekly) basis, and it can make everyday activities close to impossible. It is worth noting that TN usually affects only one side of the face.
And while it is possible for the condition to manifest on both sides, it will almost never happen at the same time. Some patients noted that there are specific triggers that can cause the pain.
This can include talking, chewing, smiling, swallowing, brushing teeth, and so on. But at the same time, it is possible for the pain to appear without a trigger.
Can You Prevent It?
There is no way to prevent trigeminal neuralgia. It is not preventable, but that doesn’t mean you are out of options. If you recognize triggers, it will be possible for you to avoid these triggers and thus avoid having painful episodes.
And a couple of treatment options might solve the problem for you.
When it comes to the treatment, you will need to visit a doctor and do some tests. The doctor must diagnose TN before they proceed to the next step. The diagnosis is based on the patient’s medical history, their description of symptoms, neurological and physical examinations, and so on.
It is also possible that they will need to get an MRI, and doctors will sometimes prescribe anti-seizure medicine. Once the doctor can diagnose trigeminal neuralgia, there will be several possible options.
Firstly, different types of medicine can solve the problem. Anticonvulsant medicine can be effective against type one trigeminal neuralgia, and antidepressants can be used to treat the pain.
If medication can’t help, having surgery might be the only viable option. And there are plenty of different options. Based on your preferences and your specific condition, the doctor will suggest one of a few options.
What To Do?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot you can do on your own. If you notice sharp pain or any other symptom of trigeminal neuralgia, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor. They will be able to assess the situation and focus on diagnosis.
Experiencing chronic sharp pain can be a clear sign to visit a doctor. You might also want to see your dentist to ensure that a dental problem does not cause pain.
And if it turns out that you have this condition, your doctor will recommend a solution. They will most likely try medication at first to see whether it is possible to solve the problem more straightforwardly.
If not, they will recommend surgery. And while it might seem scary, it will help you avoid the problem in the future. After the surgery, you will be pain-free and won’t need to worry about TN anymore.