Trigeminal Neuralgia: From Diagnosis to Hopeful Horizons

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Understanding Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as Fothergill’s disease, is a condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, leading to severe facial pain. Often described as one of the most excruciating pains a person can endure, this disorder can turn simple daily activities into unbearable tasks. Actions like eating, talking, or even a gust of wind can trigger a painful episode. It's more common in individuals over the age of 50, affecting about 1 in 15,000 people. While there's no cure, effective management through medication and surgery is possible.

Causes Behind the Pain

The pain from trigeminal neuralgia  is usually due to compression of the trigeminal nerve by a blood vessel, though it can also stem from brain abnormalities, tumors, or damage to the nerve itself. Conditions like multiple sclerosis, which damage the protective nerve coating, or physical trauma, can lead to trigeminal neuralgia. In some cases, the cause remains unknown.

Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include:   

  • Sharp jolts of intense facial pain resembling an electric shock.   
  • Pain localized to one side of the face, particularly around the eye, cheek, lips, and lower facial area.   
  • Spontaneous attacks of pain triggered by facial touch, chewing, speaking, or brushing teeth.   
  • Numbness and tingling sensations in the affected areas.   
  • Associated depression and sleep disturbances due to intense pain.

Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Trigeminal neuralgia mainly affects those over 50 and is more common in women. Family history, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, and smoking can increase the risk of developing this condition.

Diagnosis involves an MRI scan to identify any nerve compressions and a detailed examination of the pain’s nature and triggers. Treatment usually starts with medications like anticonvulsants to lessen pain signals. If medications lose effectiveness, surgical options are considered, though they come with their risks. Dr. Kohler and the Ospina Medical team focus on the safest, most effective treatments tailored to each patient’s needs.

Living with Trigeminal Neuralgia

Despite its challenges, trigeminal neuralgia symptoms can be managed, allowing individuals to lead fulfilling lives. With personalized care from specialists like Dr. Kohler, patients can find relief and support throughout their treatment journey.

Written By: Harshitha Mageshkumar

Edited By: Camden Rowe

Medically Reviewed By: Matthew Kohler, MD

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.