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Trigeminal neuralgia: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Through our body, extensions of the nervous system known as nerves travel, which have the function of sending signals to and from the brain to give the different parts of the body sensitivity and movement. Some of these nerves originate within the skull, so they are called “cranial nerves” and are numbered from one to twelve.

The fifth of these cranial nerves, known as the trigeminal nerve, brings sensitivity to our face and movement to the chewing muscles. The trigeminal name is divided into three branches: One that carries sensitivity to the upper third of the face, another for the middle third, and the third for the lower third and the chewing muscles.

In some people, the trigeminal nerve suffers from an alteration known as trigeminal neuralgia, which produces excruciating facial pain in the affected person, even from the slightest stimulus, such as brushing the teeth. The following FastlyHealarticle will explain trigeminal neuralgia’s causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by severe pain that affects one, two, or three-thirds of the face that corresponds to the three branches of the trigeminal nerve; in the vast majority of cases, it affects only the right or left half of the face, And the pain can be so significant as to incapacitate the sufferer. At the same time, it is present, which is usually from a few seconds to two minutes in duration.

This pain is throbbing and is often described as an electric shock. In general, the pain begins when the affected person stimulates a specific area of ​​the face known as the “trigger zone” or ” trigger zone ” with some joint action, such as brushing the teeth, eating, or the cold effect. In general, this pain is not nocturnal due to the absence of the stimuli that trigger the pain while we sleep.

Trigeminal neuralgia is also characterized as pain with a sudden beginning and ending, which is not relieved by using commonly used pain relievers.

Trigeminal neuralgia: causes

Trigeminal neuralgia originally had an unknown origin. Endless theories were formulated to try to make sense of their appearance. Although today the source of this condition is still not completely clear, various studies promote the idea that the most likely cause is compression of the trigeminal nerve roots at its exit from the skull caused by an artery, which produces a degradation in the structure of the nerve and makes it much more sensitive.

Another possible cause of this nerve compression is the presence of benign tumors such as meningiomas or cysts such as the arachnoid cyst. Multiple sclerosis has also been linked as a risk factor for the development of trigeminal neuralgia and the possible presence of emotional causes derived from stress.

Treatment of trigeminal nauralgia

Usually, when a patient suffers from trigeminal neuralgia, the doctor will first suggest trying to control the pain through the use of medications. The most frequently used and most successful drug is carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant drug that causes a decrease in the release of nerve impulses. For patients in whom carbamazepine does not improve or have an allergic reaction to this drug, lamotrigine, baclofen, or gabapentin are usually chosen as second-line drugs.

In cases in which the medication does not prove to improve the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, surgical procedures are used. The number of methods that have been devised for years is extensive, currently being reduced to a few that are the most accepted:

  • Vascular microdecompression is a procedure by which access the region where the blood vessels produce the trigeminal nerve compression and separate them with inert material, such as Teflon, for example, and thus reduce the symptoms.
  • The percutaneous Thermo involves inserting an electrode through the skin to locate the affected area and thus destroy the nerve fibers that have increased sensitivity due to degradation suffered.
  • The glycerol injection consists of introducing said compound in the affected region through the skin with a needle, thereby modifying the stability of the nerve fibers and thus becoming less sensitive to stimuli.
  • Finally, percutaneous micro compression consists of introducing a catheter to a region of the nerve trunk called the Gasser’s ganglion and inflating it to produce a reduction for 3 – 10 minutes, which decreases pain.

Each of these procedures has its preferred indication according to which of the branches of the trigeminal nerve is the one that produces the neuralgia, and it is up to the doctor to choose which is appropriate for each case.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Trigeminal neuralgia: causes, symptoms, and treatment, we recommend entering our Brain and nerves category.

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