Trigeminal Neuralgia is a very rare neurological disease that causes brief stabbing recurrent feeling on the facial muscles due to the pain in one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve. This condition could be fatal. The main reason that causes this is the compression of the trigeminal nerve by another artery or vein. Sometimes the pain is for no apparent reason and is misdiagnosed as a dental or a jaw problem.
The good news is that there are several medical and surgical options for trigeminal neuralgia treatment.
Medical treatment for trigeminal neuralgia
For this kind of disease, the first line of treatment is always medication. Surgery is selected as the last resort. The drugs that were developed for treating epilepsy are generally used for this ailment too. But there are certain side effects of drug therapy that are observed. These could be dizziness, drowsiness, forgetfulness, and nausea. Sometimes medicines are found to be ineffective long term.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Surgery
Once the diagnosis of this disease is confirmed, surgery can be done. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to confirm TN. This can help eliminate the other treatable causes of pain in the face muscles. It can also help evaluate the severity of the pain. The surgical options include:
This is a procedure that includes the relocation or removal of the blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal root. A small incision is made behind the ear and a small hole in made in the skull. The arteries causing blockage or those that are compressing the nerve are moved. A pad is also placed between the nerve and the arteries. If a vein is seen to be compressing the nerve, it is removed. Depending on the situation, the surgeon may even opt to cut a part of the nerve. Decompression is known to successfully eliminate pain or at least reduce pain. However, there are certain risks involved. Some of the common risks involved are decreased hearing, facial numbness and weakness, or a more serious after effect could be a stroke.
Gamma knife radio surgery
A focused dose of radiation is tactfully directed to the affected area to damage the nerve and reduce or eliminate the pain. With this procedure, pain relief is gradual and takes several weeks to heal completely. The good part is that if pain reoccurs in future, the procedure can be repeated.
Other methods of treatment include
This is a procedure in which a needle is inserted through the face into the skull. This needle is guided to the affected area and sterile glycerol is injected.
A hollow needle is inserted so that it reaches the affected area. A thin catheter with a balloon at the end is then inserted. The boon is inflated to damage the nerve. Pain signals are hence blocked.
Radiofrequency thermal lesioning
In this procedure the nerve fibers causing the pain are destroyed radio frequency thermal lesioning. This helps relieve pain to a great extent.