What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that causes painful sensations like electric shocks on one side, or in rare cases, both sides of the face. It affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. Pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by even mild stimulation of the face while brushing teeth or putting on makeup. Trigeminal neuralgia usually occurs spontaneously but is sometimes associated with facial trauma or dental procedures. Trigeminal neuralgia affects more women than men, and it typically occurs in people over 50.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment in Tampa
Most common over the counter and prescription pain medications don’t work for trigeminal neuralgia, but many modern treatments can reduce or eliminate the pain. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following:
- Medications: Trigeminal neuralgia is often first treated by medications to lessen or block the pain signals sent to your brain. Trigeminal neuralgia drug therapy typically uses some of the same medicines prescribed for controlling seizures, such as Anticonvulsants and muscle relaxers. Botox injections are also sometimes used to control trigeminal neuralgia pain.
- Trigeminal nerve blocks: Nerve blocks are injections (usually a steroid medication) made at various parts of the nerve to reduce pain. They may provide temporary pain relief, but multiple injections are usually needed to achieve the desired effect and may have different durations for different people.
- Surgery: A procedure called microvascular decompression is sometimes used, which involves relocating or removing blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal root to stop the nerve from malfunctioning. Microvascular decompression can successfully eliminate or reduce pain for many years, but pain can recur and the procedure carries some risks, including decreased hearing, facial weakness, facial numbness, stroke or other complications.
- CyberKnife® or stereotactic radiosurgery: A focused dose of radiation is directed at the root of the trigeminal nerve. The focused radiation damages the trigeminal nerve to reduce or eliminate pain while preserving the surrounding tissue. This procedure is painless and is performed without anesthesia, and roughly 70% of patients experience significant pain relief within weeks of undergoing CyberKnife® or stereotactic radiosurgery. Relief may last for several years, but in some cases the nerve may recover from radiation and resume transmitting pain, requiring retreatment.
Your doctor will diagnose trigeminal neuralgia mainly based on your description of the pain and may conduct many tests to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia and determine underlying causes for your condition, such as a neurological exam and an MRI. Facial pain may be caused by many different conditions, so an accurate diagnosis is important. Trust the experts at Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology to determine whether you have trigeminal neuralgia and to design the right treatment plan that can help reduce pain and prevent reoccurrence for as long as possible.
Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for more information about trigeminal neuralgia, our trigeminal neuralgia specialists, and trigeminal neuralgia treatment options. Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology has multiple Florida facilities located in the Tampa Bay area.