As the image shows, the trigeminal nerve consists of a complex root and branch system, linking with much of our face. This is there to carry sensation messages to our brain but can at times malfunction.
The stabbing, burning, or shock like pain which follows may be at extreme levels. Occasionally spontaneous, or environmental, or brought on by applying make up, shaving, eating, drinking, smiling, almost any facial activity.
There is no exact scenario for trigeminal neuralgia. More prevalent in later years but possible at any age, one side of the face being stricken is common but both may be, along with the oral area, jaw, eyes, or forehead.
From brief, to longer lasting, or intermittent over time, bouts can also vary and in almost all cases, deserve specialist medical support.
Diagnosis & Treatment
There is no diagnostic test as such, discussing your symptoms with an experienced consultant may be the best route. An MRI scan could be helpful in picking up areas where the nerve is compressed.
This is most often caused by pressure from nearby blood vessels, or more rarely unknown tumours, or physical trauma. Damage to the myelin sheath which surrounds a nerve may be a further issue.
Multiple sclerosis can bring this, brain lesions and strokes are at times associated with trigeminal neuralgia, although the cause is commonly independent.
Our maxillofacial consultant will discuss your health and medical history in detail, alongside any physical examination, or scan which may help. For a variable condition, understanding your unique issues is important.
There are cases which will respond to oral, or injected medication. Microvascular decompression surgery can relieve compression of a nerve by an artery or vein, along with other surgical approaches.
The spasm like pain TN can bring is often hard to bear and may become more frequent, or intense over time. All the team at our London clinic recognise the seriousness of the condition and how much impact this has on life.
We also recognise that diagnosis, or solutions are not always straightforward. Even if no compression is visible, you could still have TN, treatment that works well in one case may not do so in another.
In depth analysis of your condition will help the specialist supporting you and bring informed decisions on treatment. There is normally no need to harried by a life of facial pain, when good care is available.