Trigeminal Neuralgia is a sever neuropathic disorder of the facial nerve. It is characterized by serious bouts of pain in the facial region. This pain generally originates from the Trigeminal nerve in the face. Patients affected by this disease generally feel the pain in the eyes, ear, nose, forehead , cheeks, jaw and side of the face. In some cases the pain may be felt in the left index finger also. The duration of the attack may last from a few seconds to several minutes or hours. Researches reveal that people above 50 years get affected and the percentage is more in females than in males.
Patients who have been suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia identify a specific ‘trigger area’ in their face. This area is so sensitive that mere touching or even air currents may initiate the attacks. Common activities like eating, talking and even brushing the teeth can initiate a severe attack. Patients have described the pain to be stabbing, shocking, burning, pressing, crushing, exploding and even shooting. In extreme cases, one, two or all three branches of the trigeminal nerve may be affected.
There has been much debate about the causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia. According to new age researches the cause is an ‘enlarged blood vessel’ which in turn compresses or rubs the Trigeminal nerve in the region where it meets the pons. Such severe compression causes episodes of pain.
Unfortunately in many cases Trigeminal Neuralgia has been wrongly diagnosed as some dental problem. However, to manage the pain and cure the disease it needs early treatment. Surgery is recommended many a times to cure the disease. It is done either to relieve the compression or to damage it in a way so that the brain stops receiving the pain signals during episodes of attack. Surgery, if done with expert hands has a success rate of 90 per cent.
Stereotactic radiation therapy is also used as a treatment for this problem. No surgery or incisions are used in this procedure. It uses targeted radiation to bombard the nerve. However, this treatment is generally recommended for patients who are not fit for surgery.
Antivasculants are usually prescribed by the doctors as medication for Trigeminal Neuralgia. Carbamazepine if the first choice and is used as the first line of drug. Others include phenytoin, gabapentin, lamotrigine, baclofen, and oxcarbazepine.
Young patients suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia syndrome may sometimes sink into depression. It is therefore very important to reassure them that treatment for this chronic pain disease exists.
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