Trigeminal Neuralgia: What Is It?

  1. Home
  2. Dental Articles
  3. General Dentistry Articles
  4. Trigeminal Neuralgia: What Is It?

Trigeminal Neuralgia: What Is It?

  1. Home
  2. Dental Articles
  3. General Dentistry Articles
  4. Trigeminal Neuralgia: What Is It?
Trigeminal Neuralgia - Gisborne Dental House

Sometimes known as tic douloureux, trigeminal neuralgia is a condition where pain comes from the trigeminal nerve, which splits in three – toward the eye, cheek and jaw – and starts near the top of the ear. Clearly there are trigeminal nerves on each side of the face, but trigeminal neuralgia pain most commonly affects only one side.

And that’s the most comforting thing about it.

The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is unlike any other facial pain. Its severity is such that the affected person is momentarily paralysed although the agony travels the pronged nerve in a matter of seconds. The sensation is variously described as lancinating, a stabbing ice trident, and a 240-volt punch and as the condition progresses so can the pain.

To call trigeminal neuralgia tic douloureux (meaning painful tic) is lower middle class social climber Hyacinth Bucket insisting the pronunciation is ‘Bouquet’. It’s describing Ishtar, goddess of love and war, as a hot crankypants and blaming only Viktor Bryukhanov for Chernobyl.

In most cases, TN type 1 (as it’s also known) develops from a blood vessel pressing against the trigeminal nerve, and sometimes no underlying cause can be identified. It is a sporadic, intensely sharp, throbbing, burning shock-like pain around the eyes, lips, nose, jaw, forehead and scalp. Its progression brings pain more frequently, and for longer. TN2 (because of course there’s one) can also be idiopathic, can also be a compression of the trigeminal nerve, or can have a known underlying cause like a tumour, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. The trigeminal nerve can also be injured through surgery, accident, or stroke. It can run in families because of how blood vessels are formed in the brain.

It can also be linked to high blood pressure, and is more common in people over 50 years of age.

But wait.. there’s more: atypical TN, or TN type 2. It is often caused by infection, or demyelinating disease; which is any condition that damages the myelin sheath (a protective covering) that surrounds brain, optic and spinal cord nerve fibres.

TN type 2 has the pain as a constant: a relentless and burning ache that can also jolt with stabbing pains of less intensity than TN1.

Yippee, I bet. Like the choice between a sword and a thousand paper cuts.

Damaged nerve impulses slow or even stop, causing neurological problems. An impinging vein, artery, or tumour can compress the trigeminal nerve and symptoms are often confused with dental issues and sometimes for a prolonged period of time.

Wow. So healing to all sufferers – whichever category the TN, and whatever form that curative takes.

Thankfully (unless it’s you, I guess) trigeminal neuralgia is a rare condition. While exact numbers are unknown, researchers estimate between 10,000 and 15,000 cases are diagnosed every year. The probability of many cases being attributed to and treated as a dental issue further confounds the approximation.

Whatever the stats I’m glad I’m not one – nor you, I trust.

Although early descriptions of TN can be inferred from the 2AD writings of Greek physician Galen, Aretaeus of Cappadocia – considered second only to Hippocrates. Persian polymath and physician Avicenna, of the Islamic Golden Age recorded similar observations in the 11th century (tortura oris). Nicolas Andre ́ coined the term tic douloureux in 1756, but the first accurate description of TN was officially documented by John Fothergill in 1773, and it became known as ‘Fothergill’s disease’. He recorded that light touch was the most common trigger. He examined 14 cases and attributed the cause to a ‘cancerous acrimony’ because of the persistent and incurable pain. He noted that it was more common in women and the elderly.

The disorder can affect any of the three nerve branches: ophthalmic that controls the eye, upper eyelid, and forehead; maxillary – lower eyelid, cheek, nostril, upper lip, and upper gum; and mandibular that controls jaw, lower lip, lower gum and muscles used for chewing. As mentioned, ordinarily the pain is limited to one side of the face, but bilateral trigeminal neuralgia where it affects both sides can also occur.

Woman Washing Face - Gisborne Dental House

What symptoms manifest?

Other than brief periods of shooting pain, it may present as triggered pain from simply blowing your nose, brushing your teeth, washing your face, shaving, or putting on makeup. Even a light breeze can be enough. Pain will be felt mostly along the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums and lips; the forehead and eyes are less routinely affected. After an episode, there’s often uncontrollable face twitching.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that can also create anxiety because of the uncertainty of when the agony will return. Although the pain can be intense, the condition is not life threatening and there are treatments available.

Expect the doctor to ask a lot of questions about your symptoms. You may also have a neurological exam, and an MRI to identify the underlying cause.

Anti-convulsant medication and muscle relaxants are often prescribed, Cosmetic Injectable can be suggested, and there are surgical options.

Acupuncture, yoga, and chiropractic treatment have also proven successful in many cases, so there are choices beyond pharmaceuticals and medical intervention.

Your body, and its trillions of cells, respond to all information from your brain – including what you think. Equally concerning and empowering. Even science shows negative and troublesome beliefs predispose the body to illness and that positivity is healing and curative.

Just words, I know – in the same way that pain is just sensation. You are the gatekeeper of your mind, and it’s useful to be protective about how you perceive and process. So manifest good health for yourself just … because.

Because you can, because why not, and because it serves you.

DISCLAIMER:

The content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. New Gisborne Dental House does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the content.

The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional personal diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental or medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read or seen on the Site.

Services we mentioned:

Cosmetic Injectable In Gisborne, Macedon & Riddells Creek - Gisborne Dental House

Cosmetic Injectable

 

Related Articles

DentalHouse_NewGisborne_Webinar_Replay

Ready to get started?

Just fill in this form and we will be in touch

"*" indicates required fields

Patient Status*

Preferred Contact Method:

Preferred Contact Method:

Treatment:

Treatment*

Preferred Date:

DD slash MM slash YYYY

Preferred Time:

Preferred Time*
:

Great dental practice! Fong is a very experienced dentist acquiring all my dental needs and the nurse Emily helped my dentist experience a comfortable one. Highly recommend them.

Michael D.

After hearing numerous excellent reports about this clinic, I decided to visit myself. I must say that it was a fantastic experience, even better than I expected! The clinic is bright and modern, the receptionists and nurses are friendly and help to put you at ease. The dentist is gentle, knowledgeable and explains everything so thoroughly!

I highly recommend this clinic!
 

Rebecca S.

Team Leader - Lauren

Hi, you're chatting with Lauren. If you could please fill out all your details below, I will be in contact with you shortly.

Patient Status(Required)
Preferred Contact Method:
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Dental House Webinar

Achieving the Smile You Love Webinar

Thinking of upgrading your smile but not sure what to expect? Watch this webinar as Dr Antonoff takes you through 3 patients’ smiles he transformed right here in Melbourne.

Dental House Price List

Download Price List

Please enter your mobile number and email address so we can send you the price list via SMS and email along with some of our patients’ smile transformations in the next few minutes.