With inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, the sensitivity of facial tissues, facial expressions, the work of the jaws is disturbed and trigeminal neuralgia symptoms appear. Typical trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by sudden, acute pain of high intensity, which, as a rule, is localized on one side of the cheek or jaw. Attacks have a relatively short duration — up to two minutes, but very often they are repeated.
There are two types of the disease: typical and atypical. In the first case, high-intensity trigeminal neuralgia pain arises and disappears quickly, and in the second, weak aching pains follow the patient for a long time.
What is Trigeminal neuralgia?
Pain in the face area is considered the most difficult in medicine since it is associated with pathologies of both the nervous system and the ENT organs, the dentoalveolar system or the eyes. Nevertheless, trigeminal neuralgias are often the cause of such pain.
The problem is at the top of the ranking of neurological diseases due to a large number of factors: excruciating paroxysmal pain, social and work maladjustment (it is extremely difficult for a person to work productively in constant stress), and long-term treatment.
Primary and secondary neuralgia
The most popular classification is related to the etiology (nature of occurrence).
- Primary idiopathic. It arises as a response to vascular compression (squeezing) of the trigeminal root. Most often, in practice, such compression occurs in the area of the brain stem.
- Secondary symptomatic. The consequence of infections, the appearance of neoplasms and their growth, bone changes.
Trigeminal neuralgia causes
There is a wide range of pathological disorders that can cause trigeminal neuralgia. The most common causes leading to inflammation of the trigeminal nerve are:
- inflammation of the membranes of the brain or spinal cord (meningitis);
- diseases of the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis);
- malocclusion, herpes, transmitted to the ganglia (nodes) of the trigeminal nerve;
- hypothermia: in fact, a person’s tissues are cooled, and then the nerve becomes inflamed;
- bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract, throat.
Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms
The main characteristic symptom of trigeminal neuralgia is paroxysmal pain. It comes on suddenly as other trigeminal neuralgia symptoms and in its intensity and speed of propagation resembles an electric shock. Usually, an intensely painful sensation forces the patient to freeze in place, waiting for relief. The attack can last from a few seconds to 2-3 minutes, after which a period of calm ensues. The next wave of pain may occur over a period of hours, days, weeks, or months.
Over time, the duration of each atypical trigeminal neuralgia attack increases, and the periods of calm are shortened until the development of continuous aching pain.
The provoking factor is irritation of trigger points:
- nose wings;
- eyebrow area;
- the middle part of the chin, cheeks;
- area of the external auditory canal;
- oral cavity.
The diagnostics for correct trigeminal neuralgia treatment is performed by a neurologist. During the first visit, the specialist carefully interviews the patient to find out:
- complaints: the nature of pain, its intensity, and localization, frequency of neurological attacks, their duration;
- medical history: when pain attacks first appeared, how they changed over time, etc.;
- patient’s life history: the presence of chronic diseases, trauma, and operations are being clarified, special attention is paid to dental diseases and interventions.
Laboratory diagnostics are also needed for effective treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. The diagnostics include only general studies to exclude other trigeminal neuralgia symptoms such as pain attacks, as well as to assess the state of the body as a whole.
Complications of trigeminal neuralgia
Without treatment, trigeminal neuralgia progressively worsens. Frequent illnesses weaken the body and cause chronic illnesses. Fatigue increases, performance decreases. Constant pain and forced rejection of the usual way of life, restrictions on nutrition, and communication lead to changes in the human psyche.