Trigeminal neuralgia – Symptoms and causes

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The trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition which affects the trigeminal nerve. This is a nerve which carries sensation from your face to your brain. If you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face (like putting on makeup or brushing your teeth) can trigger a jolt of excruciating pain. Initially, you may experience short and mild attacks. The trigeminal neuralgia can progress and cause longer and more – frequent bouts of searing pain. It is noticed that the trigeminal neuralgia affects women more often than men.

It is more likely to happen in people who are older than 50. There are many different treatments for the trigeminal neuralgia, so if you have trigeminal neuralgia that does not mean that you are doomed to a life of pain. Usually, doctors can effectively manage trigeminal neuralgia with medications, injections or surgery. The life with trigeminal neuralgia can be very difficult and your quality of life can be significantly affected.

You may feel like avoiding activities, such as eating, shaving or washing, so you do not trigger the pain and the fear of pain may mean that you avoid social activities. It is very important to live a normal life and be aware that becoming dehydrated or undernourished can make the pain worse. Your emotional strain of living with repeated episodes of pain can lead to psychological problems, such as depression.  There are some cases when people who have extreme pain think to make suicide, but it is very important to ask for your help and not to finish with your life.

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Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms

The trigeminal neuralgia might include one or more of these patterns:

  • There can be attacks that become more frequent and intense over time
  • The episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that may feel like an electric shock
  • A pain focused in one spot or spread in a wider pattern
  • Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things, such as chewing, touching the face, brushing teeth or speaking
  • The pain that is affecting one side of the face at a time, though may rarely affect both sides of the face
  • Pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve, including the lips, gums, teeth, jaw, cheek, or less often the eye and forehead
  • The bouts of pain lasting from a few seconds to several minutes
  • The constant aching, burning feeling that may occur before it evolves into the spasm – like pain of trigeminal neuralgia
  • The episodes of several attacks, lasting days, weeks, months or longer – some people have periods when they experience no pain

If you experience facial pain, especially recurring or prolonged pain or pain unrelieved by over – the – counter pain relievers, then you should make appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will diagnose the trigeminal neuralgia depending on the description of the pain, including triggers, location and type.

Trigeminal neuralgia causes

It is happening when the function of trigeminal nerve is disrupted. It is also known as tic douloureux. Generally, there is a problem with the contact between a normal blood vessel (in this case, an artery or a vein) and the trigeminal nerve at the base of the brain. This contact is putting pressure on the nerve and it is causing it to malfunction. It is noticed that it is happening as a result of aging, or it can be related to the multiple sclerosis or a similar disorder that damages the myelin sheath protecting certain nerves.

Also, the trigeminal neuralgia can be caused by a tumor which is compressing the trigeminal nerve. Also, there are some cases when people can experience trigeminal neuralgia due to a brain lesion or other abnormalities. There are other cases when facial trauma, stroke or injuries can be responsible for trigeminal neuralgia.

Triggers

There are some factors which can set off the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, such as

  • Washing your face
  • Smiling
  • Encountering a breeze
  • Putting on makeup
  • Head movements
  • Chewing
  • A light touch
  • Swallowing
  • Some vibrations, such as walking or travelling in a car
  • Kissing
  • Talking
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • Touching your face
  • Shaving or putting on make – up

But, you should know that the pain can happen spontaneously with no trigger whatsoever.

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