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.
FAQ about Trigeminal neuralgia
What is the main cause of trigeminal neuralgia?
The attacks of severe and sharp pain in the area of your face, known as trigeminal neuralgia, can be triggered by a myriad of causes that must be properly managed to deal with the symptoms. The development of pathology is associated with damage to peripheral nerves. The disease can be suspected by intense burning pain in the right or left side of the face, as well as by a violation of the sensitivity of the skin. Acute attacks can flare up due to the following reasons:
- facial injuries;
- autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis;
- chronic diseases in the face area, such as periodontitis (tissue inflammation around the teeth, chronic sinusitis, etc.);
- atherosclerosis (a disease of the arteries).
If any discomfort in the face area occurs, it is necessary to contact a neurologist in a timely manner, as struggling with the symptoms, a person can have poor performance levels and troubles with executing simple daily tasks, so restoration of quality of life is imperative and considered as a top priority treatment goal.
Can trigeminal neuralgia be cured?
Although the condition cannot always be healed, there are methods for alleviating the painful sensation that may cause extreme exhaustion and prevent a normal life. Taking anticonvulsant drugs is the first step on the way to recovery. Your doctor will prescribe medications at low doses and based on the response, the dosage can be increased to achieve better outcomes. Physiotherapy, as well as some alternative methods, such as acupuncture, can help to fight and manage nerve pain. For some patients, relaxation techniques can also come in handy and reduce the severity of symptoms.
In the event when the disease is caused by serious internal disorders, drug therapy may not be enough. The only effective way to eliminate the condition and repair overall health and prevent recurring episodes of acute and intense sensations is surgical treatment. The success of your rehabilitation depends on how timely you consult a doctor and how accurately you adhere to the curing plan developed by a knowledgeable medical specialist.
How do you calm down trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia can be both an independent disease and a symptom indicating pathology in nearby tissues and vessels. Since there aren’t so many treatment choices, to relieve your pain in a capable manner, it is pivotal to determine the root of the problem. To combat unpleasant signs of TN, your doctor will choose drugs for blocking the pain signals and preventing the next attack that leads to intensified facial pain.
In most cases, an individual requires comprehensive treatment using anticonvulsants, muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms, boost blood circulation, promote better pain management, B vitamins for stimulating the repair of nerve fibers and ensuring antidepressant effects, antihistamines to enhance the effect of anticonvulsants, sedatives to stabilize the patient’s emotional state. Apart from prescribed medications, you can apply home remedies that can be also efficient. For example, to cope with pain in the affected area, you can apply a hot compress. Heat will minimize the physical suffering and discomfort you experience, however won’t lead to total recovery.
Is trigeminal neuralgia serious?
Trigeminal neuralgia is accompanied by an array of symptoms, discomfort, and debilitating facial ache. The danger of the condition is that episodes that stop may return, progressing, worsening, and intensifying pain, even with the right treatment. In such a case, drugs to control TN become less effective and won’t deliver the expected relief.
Another crucial thing to be aware of is that even if the facial nerve pain is not life-threatening and won’t put you at risk of dreadful and dire consequences or development of other disorders, it is still must be handled competently, as it can be triggered by serious health issues, such as various diseases of the central nervous system, including multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, encephalopathy, meningitis, tumors. Spotting the underlying disorder, accurate diagnosis, and the assistance of a proficient doctor are essential to maintain well-being and keep your nerves healthy.