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Trigeminal Neuralgia and Other Facial Pains

beware

Not Every Pain Disorder in the Face is Trigeminal Neuralgia...

Though Trigeminal Neuralgia is really rare...

occurring in less than 0.3% of the general population...

many facial pains are inappropriately diagnosed as trigeminal neuralgia.

Classic or Primary Trigeminal Neuralgia

The classic trigeminal neuralgia diagnosis is hard to miss.

Symptoms include the following:

  • Brief (less than 1 sec and up to 2 min) severe, electric shock-like, stabbing, shooting or sharp pain typically triggered by a non-painful stimulus such as light touch

  • Painful areas and trigger zones are located within the 3 branches of the trigeminal nerve

  • Pain is typically only one one side of the face

  • A refractory period (no pain can be triggered in the same area) after a painful attack is typically present

  • Typically no pain is present in between painful attacks

 

Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia

 

Many patients with facial pains that are difficult to diagnose get Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia as a default diagnosis.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

 

No one truly knows. But there are some theories. Sometimes trigeminal neuralgia develops as a result of a tumor or a disease such as multiple sclerosis. Imaging such as MRI is valuable in ruling out these causes. More of than not, though, there is not a definitive cause for trigeminal neuralgia. One theory is that the trigeminal nerve is being compressed by pulsations from neighboring blood vessels. But no one really knows why. 

Conventional Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment Options

The current standard for treating trigeminal neuralgia is to start by prescribing medications (ie carbamazepine or oxcarbazepine), followed by more invasive procedures such as microvascular decompression, brain stereotactic radiosurgery (Gamma Knife) or rhizotomy.

Other Facial Pains

 

Many patients with facial pains that are difficult to diagnose get Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia as a default diagnosis.

Our Treatment Options

The Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) block has been well studied and effectively used to provide pain relief for patients with Trigeminal Neuralgia and Atypical Facial Pains. We have a separate page dedicated to sharing information about this powerful and effective therapy.

Contact our office to schedule an evaluation today.

At The Orofacial Pain Center, we are dedicated to helping you find relief.

Call us today: 773.873.6372

Image by Erick Butler
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