Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also known as tic douloureux or the “suicide disease,” is a facial nerve disorder that affects the trigeminal nerve. It’s characterized by excruciating pain, which is experienced as sudden, severe shock-like episodes in or around the face. Episodes typically last several seconds, though they can last up to two minutes, and may repeat in succession and throughout the day. Trigeminal neuralgia affects 150 per million people every year, most often occurring in women over the age of 50.

Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia

One of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is jaw pain. It may be a dull ache or a sharp pain and can be constant or intermittent. The pain may also radiate to other areas of the face, neck, and shoulders. Some people may also experience headaches, earaches, or a feeling of pressure in the ears.

These symptoms can be disruptive to daily activities and may worsen over time if left untreated. Below are some other common symptoms of TMJ.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia

Some cases of TN have no apparent cause. TN is a neurological pain condition thought to be caused by damage or irritation to the nervous system. This condition is often the result of pressure on the trigeminal nerve by a blood vessel at the base of the brain. The reason for this may be an inherited blood vessel formation prone to nerve compression.

Common reasons for this include:

  • Nerve compression
  • Tumors
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Physical injury

How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Diagnosed

Beyond evaluating symptoms, health history and performing a physical exam of the area affected, a doctor may recommend tests to identify medical problems. As with many pain conditions where the exact cause is unknown, trigeminal neuralgia is often diagnosed by eliminating other serious medical problems. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be performed to rule out the presence of a tumor or multiple sclerosis. Rarely, a high-definition magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) may identify where a blood vessel has compressed a nerve. A MRA has been found to detect a vein or artery compressing a nerve in 80 percent of trigeminal neuralgia cases caused by nerve compression. Trigeminal neuralgia may also be positively identified if pain decreases with Tegretol treatment. No single test can reliably identify all cases of trigeminal neuralgia, so diagnosis is dependent on an accurate interpretation of a patient’s signs and symptoms.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment

There are several treatment options available to help manage the pain and improve quality of life. We offer a series of traditional and alternative treatments for trigeminal neuralgia including:
Medication: anticonvulsants & antidepressants
Injections: TN nerve block, botox
LIIT: laser treatment for trigeminal neuralgia

We also offer support and guidance for natural treatment options, as well as lifestyle modifications to support at home treatment.

Our Approach

Getting a professional evaluation and expert advice is important for diagnosing and treating your Trigeminal Neuralgia correctly. Early intervention and proper management can often lead to better outcomes in pain relief.

Our providers are all board-certified experts in orofacial pain syndromes, including Trigeminal Neuralgia. Therapies we offer include medication management, oral appliances, and therapeutic injections.