Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic condition that causes extreme, sporadic facial pain. The condition results from the inflammation of the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for carrying sensation from your face to your brain. The inflammation is thought to be caused by compression of the nerve by a nearby blood vessel. Trigeminal neuralgia may be part of the normal aging process or may be associated with other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. Trigeminal neuralgia is traditionally more common in women than men and occurs more frequently in people over 50.
While the pain from the condition can be debilitating, SSM Health Neurosciences offers a variety of treatments to help relieve your symptoms. Find an SSM Health provider near you to learn how we can treat your trigeminal neuralgia, so you don’t have to live in pain.
Signs & Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Sudden, shock-like facial pain is the hallmark sign of trigeminal neuralgia. While the condition is not life-threatening, the pain may be incapacitating. Your symptoms may occur in certain patterns:
- The spasms may last a few seconds or minutes.
- The pain is usually on only one side of the face, often around the eye, cheek and lower part of the face.
- The pain can be triggered by routine activities, such as shaving, eating, brushing your teeth, talking and putting on makeup.
- Attacks may become more frequent or more severe over time.
Treating Trigeminal Neuralgia
Because facial pain can be caused by a variety of conditions, trigeminal neuralgia can be difficult to diagnose. In fact, the condition is often misdiagnosed as dental disease. Our highly skilled team will perform a comprehensive evaluation and perform a variety of tests to accurately diagnose the cause of your pain and determine the best treatment.
SSM Health Neurosciences offers several options to treat trigeminal neuralgia, including medications, injections and surgery.
Medications for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Medication is usually the first line of defense for trigeminal neuralgia. While the pain is not typically relieved with the use of typical pain relievers, anticonvulsant medications are effective for many of our patients.
Injections for Trigeminal Neuralgia
In some cases, your doctor may inject medication directly into the nerve to block the signal between the nerve and brain to relieve your pain.
Surgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia
If medications do not adequately control your pain or cause side effects that are difficult to tolerate, your SSM Health Neurosciences team may recommend surgery to relieve the added pressure on the nerve. There are several surgical procedures available, and your care team will help you determine the best option.
If you experience recurrent facial pain, especially pain that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medication, schedule an appointment with your SSM Health primary care provider. If they suspect something more serious, they will refer you for a consultation with SSM Health Neurosciences. If you have struggled to find relief from a previously diagnosed condition, schedule an appointment for a second opinion with SSM Health Neurosciences, and together we can determine the best path forward for you.