Causes and Symptoms of Trigeminal neuralgia (TN)

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

The Trigeminal nerve is one of the 12 pairs of the cranial nerves that emerge from your brain. The nerve is responsible for letting you feel sensations in your face. Each nerve that runs down either side of your face is further bifurcated into 3 branches controlling sensations in different parts of your face.

  1. The Ophthalmic branch: Deals with sensations of your eyes and forehead.
  2. The Maxillary branch: Associated with sensations in your lower eyelid, cheek, nostril, top lip and gum.
  3. The Mandibular branch:  Transmits sensations of your jaw, lower lip, lower gum, and some muscles used for masticulation.

Trigeminal Neuralgia meaning nerve pain can affect any of these 3 branches resulting in pain, tingling, or tenderness in your forehead, ears, eyes (you mostly feel the pain above your eyes), jaws and base of the neck.

Approximately 30 million people globally are believed to suffer from variants of nerve pain. Trigeminal Neuralgia is an extraordinary pain that predominantly affects one side of the face and the patient experiences debilitating pain resembling an electric shock. The pain may start suddenly or be set off by stimulating a trigger factor like brushing, shaving or chewing.

Trigeminal pain can last seconds to minutes. It is recurring and usually occurs in bouts with periods of remission in between. However, this pain is so severe and dreadful that it has been dubbed the suicide disease because of its potential to drive the patient to take his/her own life.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Almost 95% of the times, trigeminal neuralgia results when an artery or vein comes in contact with the nerve and compresses it. This resulting contact could directly lead to pressure on the nerve, or it could affect the surrounding protective myelin sheath covering the nerve causing it to be bruised, inflamed, damaged, or eroded.

There are other causes of nerve pain too, which include the following:

  • A large number of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients are believed to have TN. MS is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the myelin sheath and destroys or damages it. Other autoimmune disorders include Rheumatoid arthritis, Eczema, Psoriasis etc.
  • Viral infections like HSV, Epstein Barr Virus, and Shingles may result in nerve pain. The viruses on entering the body are believed to colonize in the nerves resulting in disruption of impulses and incidence of pain.
  • Medical conditions like high BP, anxiety, depression increase the pressure in your arteries which could lead to the artery applying more pressure on the nerve resulting in pain.
  • Nutritional deficiencies particularly of magnesium and Vitamin B12 could lead to nerve pain since these nutrients are very important in maintaining healthy nerves.
  • A surgery, or any other external or internal injury to the brain or face could lead to nerve damage and consequent nerve pain.
  • Dental infections could lead to TN if the nerve has been unduly affected.
  • Hormonal imbalances especially for women in the menopause phase, or those taking hormonal replacement therapies or birth control pills are said to be more vulnerable to neuropathic pain since hormones influence everything from neurotransmitter release and uptake to synaptic connectionsin the nervous system
  • Eating food that is either too hot or cold.
  • Nerve pain can also result from eating foods that cause constipation or in cases of diarrhea since these conditions result in inflammation of the intestinal mucosa resulting in malabsorption of nutrients.
  • Incessant exposure to Electromagnetic fields (EMF) and external stimuli like loud noises, and heavy machinery could interfere with nerve transmission and also cause nerve damage or pain.
  • Tumors or cyst formation on the nerve could lead to compression and pain.

Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Pain is the single most important symptom of TN. Whenever a triggering factor presents itself the afflicted nerve sends intense messages of pain to the brain that the patient describes as throbbing, stabbing, exploding, shooting and burning sensations. The pain duration lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. It has been observed that the pain intensifies as the condition progresses. Sometimes, the patient feels a tingling or numbing sensation before the pain episode starts and some often have a dull persistent ache between attacks.  The triggering factors could be mundane everyday routines like:

  • Shaving
  • Brushing
  • Doing makeup
  • Chewing your food
  • Speaking
  • Touching the face

Sometimes, even a cold breeze blowing over the face can bring on the attack. TN is progressive and as the condition advances the attacks begin more often and continue for a longer period of time.

Treatment Options for Trigeminal Neuralgia

There are a number of treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia  providing symptomatic relief in reducing pain and decreasing the number of attacks. Typical painkillers are ineffective since TN is related to nerve pain. Antiseizure medicines, muscle relaxant, antiepileptic drugs, tricyclic anti depressants are some of the drugs employed to alleviate the condition.

If pain does not respond to medication then surgery is advised. However, surgical intervention may produce other complications such as scar formation and loss of other functions.

Complementary and alternative medicines have also come a long way in offering options to deal with trigeminal pain. Growing research on Natural Ingredients has identified many effective pain relieving herbs and nutritional supplements. Biogetica combines traditional ayurvedic herbs, advanced resonance homeopathic constituents and ground breaking nutraceuticals that work synergistically to provide freedom from pain. These products are traditionally believed to exert their influence by decreasing nerve sensitivity. Specialized ingredients provide nourishment and also protect and strengthen the nerves. To know more about our health protocols or to get expert advice on any health related concerns, please consult our doctors available 24/7 at now.

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