Trigeminal neuralgia is an intensely painful nerve disorder that may be triggered by smiling, brushing your teeth, or simply touching your face. Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). However, the board-certified neurosurgeons at Coast Neurosurgical Associates in Long Beach, California, offer minimally invasive surgery that can prevent TN from disrupting your life for up to ten years. Schedule an evaluation today. Call the office or request an appointment online.
The trigeminal nerve transmits sensory information to the skin, sinuses, and mucous membranes of the face, communicating touch, pain, and temperature to your brain. This largest of 12 cranial nerves also controls movement in your jaw muscles when you chew, smile, or speak.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) causes sharp, shooting, burning, or electric shock-type pain in the face. The pain may occur on one side of the head or both and is often described as excruciating. It can last from a few seconds to hours.
Pain episodes related to TN are usually brief initially. However, as the condition progresses, you may experience more intense pain lasting for several hours and dull or achy discomfort that can continue for days.
Touching the face, shaving, chewing, brushing your teeth, and talking can trigger TN pain. Sometimes even the breeze from a fan blowing across your face can trigger an attack. Unfortunately, the triggers can change. For instance, chewing may not bother you one day but lead to a painful episode the next. This characteristic makes it difficult to predict and thus avoid some TN triggers.
Contact from a nearby blood vessel is a common cause of trigeminal neuralgia. This contact compresses and irritates the nerve, causing it to malfunction.
Other potential causes of trigeminal neuralgia include chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, which damages the myelin sheath protecting some nerves. A tumor compressing the nerve, complications related to stroke, and facial trauma may also cause TN. However, it’s also possible to develop TN for no discernible reason.
If your symptoms don’t respond adequately to medication therapy, your Coast Neurosurgical Associates provider may recommend minimally invasive surgery.
For instance, microvascular decompression may address TN related to nerve irritation from a nearby blood vessel. During this procedure, your surgeon gently repositions the problematic artery, placing a cushion between the nerve and the artery.
If a vein is irritating the nerve, your surgeon may choose to remove it. Most people experience pain relief following microvascular decompression for ten years or longer. Another surgery for TN is brain stereotactic radiosurgery, which utilizes Gamma Knife® treatment to damage the nerve and prevent it from transmitting pain signals to the brain.
Schedule an evaluation at Coast Neurosurgical Associates today. Call the office or request an appointment using their online scheduling service.