As chiropractic doctors, we understand the pain of our patients they go through. Even a mild strain, no matter where it is located, causes a lot of discomfort. Some conditions are accompanied by excruciating pain, which usually seems quite intolerable. They are triggered by most mundane acts which you might not even count in your daily routine.
In such conditions, we ensure our patient gets maximum relief in minimum possible time. We do realize how patting your face with a tissue or removing a fallen eyelash from your cheek can become most painful. This might seem not only odd but funny to you that how acts as minor as these can trigger intolerable pain, but he is a real medical condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Basics of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal Neuralgia, or tic douloureux, is a difficult name that is enough to freak you out. You might think of it as an incurable deadly disease, but trust me, it can be managed. For better understanding, let me tell you, there are twelve cranial nerves that run through your body. Out of these twelve cranial nerves, the fifth one is called the Trigeminal nerve.
The core function of this nerve is to supply your face. Now you can take a guess? As the name indicates, Trigeminal Neuralgia is a condition in which the Trigeminal nerve is affected. In this condition, the most prominent symptom is the brain-exploding pain that you often experience in your face.
Multiple pain patterns
In Trigeminal Neuralgia, the areas affected are those supplied exclusively by the trigeminal nerve, which includes lips, teeth, gums, cheek, jaw, forehead, and eyes. The jolts of pain might be different in different patients. It can follow one or more patterns in you while a completely different pattern in another patient.
You might feel as if someone has connected your face to bare wires giving you an electric shock. The pain feels like electric current hitting your bare face. In other conditions, your face might experience pain only when it is triggered by acts like wiping your face, chewing, talking, cloth touching your face, and even your hair brushing your face. In some patients, the duration of pain is barely seconds and minutes. These are the lucky ones.
Other patients suffer from long durations of pain which last for weeks and even months. Those people who have constant pain for long durations develop spasm-like pain. In this chronic pain condition, the pain is mostly on the side of the face, and very rarely affects both sides. Some patients often complain of an increase in the frequency and intensity of pain with the passage of time. In fact, in the very beginning, the pain is usually localized to one spot or a limited area, but with time, the area widens. You see, the patterns of pain are diverse.
Causes and Triggers
Trigeminal Neuralgia has various causes. It is necessary to figure them out before the condition worsens. For that, you, as a patient, must co-operate completely by hiding no medical history. When a chiropractic doctor has a complete medical history of their patients, they are confident to rule out the cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia. This condition can be caused by anatomical issues. There is a possibility that the trigeminal nerve is being compressed by an artery or vein due to which it is malfunctioning. Since trigeminal nerve lies at the base of the brain, therefore there is a high chance for any structure to put pressure on it leading to chronic pain.
Another possibility is the occurrence of a pathological condition, which leads to Trigeminal Neuralgia. Among such conditions, Multiple sclerosis is the most common cause. It is a condition in which the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve degenerates, leaving the nerve unprotected. Other possibilities for the cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia are brain surgery or brain lesion. Any trauma to face is also a common cause. When any of the mentioned possibilities causes Trigeminal Neuralgia, it becomes nearly impossible to keep the face away from triggers.
All the triggers are nothing grave but very simple and negligible reasons. Mostly, the patient or their family unintentionally out of habit commits an act that recruits a sudden jolt of teeth-grinding pain. Triggers include touching your face in anyway way, be it wiping, cleaning, washing, and removing a particle or thread and talking, chewing, or brushing teeth. Even a cool breeze hitting your face is enough to give you a burning pain. We know this is complicated, but you have to be careful with the triggers.
Odd fact about trigeminal neuralgia is that it is more commonly observed in females as compared to males. Males can exhale a sigh of relief here. Also, age is a factor that increases the risk of trigeminal Neuralgia, making the people above the age of 50 at higher risk.
Now we will move towards the part which matters the most to your diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia is not easy. Chiropractic doctors have to run multiple tests to put a confirm diagnosis in front of you. Firstly, they will opt for a neurological examination. In this exam, a chiropractic doctor will gently touch your face to figure out which part of your face hurts the most. This will help them rule out the branches of the Trigeminal nerve involved in the condition.
Secondly, a chiropractic doctor can perform reflex tests to determine whether the bouts of face pain are due to compression of the Trigeminal nerve or some other condition. MRI is another authentic diagnostic test that confirms the presence of a tumor and multiple sclerosis. An extended version is MRA in which the dye is injected in your blood to observe the blood flow. This will confirm if an artery or vein is compressing the Trigeminal nerve and causing face pain.
As far as the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia is concerned, there are various options. A very well-known treatment option is the chiropractic adjustment. It is a technique that provides relief in the shortest time span. Chiropractors believe that trigeminal neuralgia is caused by pressure exerted on the nerve by jaw or vertebrae. In scheduled sessions, vertebra and jaw are aligned to provide permanent relief from facial pain.
- Trigeminal neuralgia. (2017, July 26). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trigeminalneuralgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353344
- You Can Find relief from Trigeminal Neuralgia. (2018, November Retrieved from https://livingvitallife.com/can-find-relief-trigeminal-neuralgia )