A headless doctor doesnt experience trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal Neuralgia: 10 Terms to Know

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that can lead to intense pain from mild stimulation to the face. If you are experiencing some of the common symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, here are some of the most important terms you should be familiar with about this condition.

  1. Trigeminal nerve: This is the nerve that carries sensation from your face to your brain. In someone who has trigeminal neuralgia, the trigeminal nerve is not functioning correctly. This could occur for a number of reasons, whether it be from aging, another disorder, or a tumor putting pressure on the nerve.

  2. Triggers: There are usually certain actions that can intensify the pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia. The most common triggers include shaving, touching your face, eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, talking, putting on makeup, smiling, washing your face, or even simply encountering a breeze.

  3. Neurological examination: When diagnosing this condition, your doctor will likely recommend some tests to both confirm the diagnosis as well as determine if there are any underlying causes for the condition. A neurological examination involves your doctor touching different parts of your face in order to determine the exact source of the pain and which branches of the trigeminal nerve are being affected the most. Reflex tests can also help your doctor to know if your symptoms are being caused by a compressed nerve or something else.

  4. Magnetic resonance imaging: An MRI scan is used to create images of the inside of your head. This can help your doctor to determine if conditions such as multiple sclerosis or a tumor causing your symptoms to occur.

  5. Anticonvulsants: Medications are usually used to treat trigeminal neuralgia. Anticonvulsant medications are some of the most commonly prescribed, and this could include carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), lamotrigine (Lamictal), and phenytoin (Dilantin).

  6. Antispasmodic agents: Muscle relaxing medications may be used alone or in combination with anticonvulsants to treat trigeminal neuralgia. One example would be baclofen (Gablofen).

  7. Botox injections: There are some studies that show that Botox injections can help to reduce the pain that is caused by trigeminal neuralgia if medications have lost their effectiveness.

  8. Microvascular decompression: There are also surgical procedures that may be used to treat trigeminal neuralgia if medications will not work to relieve your symptoms anymore. One example is a procedure called microvascular decompression. This involves relocating or removing the blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal root which cause pressure on the nerve and intensify the pain. Most of the time, this procedure is successful at eliminating or reducing pain for patients. However, it is possible for the pain to recur over time, and it may result in partial facial numbness afterwards as well.

  9. Gamma Knife radiosurgery: This is a procedure that involves using a focused dose of radiation on the root of the trigeminal nerve to intentionally damage it. This procedure is usually successful at reducing or eliminating pain for most patients, though it may take several weeks to reach the full effect.

  10. Rhizotomy: This is a procedure that involves destroying the fibers in the trigeminal nerve, which will relieve the pain but may also cause facial numbness. There are several different types of rhizotomy procedures, including glycerol injection, balloon compression, and radiofrequency thermal lesioning.

Last Updated: November 16, 2015