Trigeminal Neuralgia

Find Effective Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic

What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

The trigeminal nerve is the nerve that carries sensation from your face to your brain. Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic condition which causes facial pain. The pain can be quite severe and have a significant impact on quality of life.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia occurs because the nerve’s function has been disrupted in some way. Often it’s the result of a blood vessel making contact with the trigeminal nerve, which puts pressure on the nerve, eventually wearing it down. Tumors or injuries to the nerve (sometimes after a facial surgery, for example) can also result in trigeminal neuralgia.

Aging, as well as chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, can also play a part in the development of trigeminal neuralgia, as they can damage the protective covering of the nerve. Women are more likely to have trigeminal neuralgia than men, and risks increase over the age of 50.

What Are the Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?

In many cases, pain episodes may start out as short and mild, but as the condition progresses, the episodes increase in length and intensity.

Pain can range from sudden and severe, to constant and burning. It may impact one small area of the face, or it can spread in a larger pattern.

Pain episodes can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Some people can go periods of time without attacks, and pain episodes are rarely felt when sleeping.

There are often triggers that set off the pain. These can include:

  • Contact with the cheek (when washing, shaving, brushing teeth, applying makeup)
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking
  • Smiling

How Is Trigeminal Neuralgia Diagnosed?

If you’re concerned that you may have trigeminal neuralgia, please visit us at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic. We’ll evaluate your condition with a full medical history and a physical examination that includes a neurological examination for vision, balance, and other possible impairments.

The doctor may also order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate detailed images of the body.

How Is Trigeminal Neuralgia Treated?

Medications are almost always prescribed first, which can block pain signals and lessen the pain.

When medications are not effective, surgical options at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic include:

  • Microvascular decompression: The surgeon relocates or removes any blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal nerve, using a small incision behind the ear.
  • Brain stereotactic radiosurgery: The surgeon damages the trigeminal nerve by directing focused radiation to its root, which can reduce and sometimes eliminate pain.
  • Rhizotomy: Using a thin needle, the surgeon destroys nerve fibers to block the pain. Some facial numbness is a common side effect with this procedure.

Make an Appointment

Our neurosurgeons at Raleigh Neurosurgical Clinic have extensive experience in dealing with trigeminal neuralgia. 

To meet with one of our trigeminal neuralgia specialists, make an appointment today.

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