Conquering the Searing Face Pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Conquering the Searing Face Pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a type of chronic pain affecting the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. It usually occurs on one side of the face and causes an extreme, sudden burning or shock-like pain. Any vibration on your face such as brushing your teeth, applying makeup or something as simple as talking may trigger a jolt of searing pain. The condition is intermittent. At first, the attacks tend to be short and mild, however TN usually progresses causing longer, more frequent episodes of excruciating pain.

TN usually affects people over 50 and it occurs more with women than men. In many cases, the cause is not exactly known. It is believed that, in most cases, a blood vessel may be pressing on the trigeminal nerve. Tumors and multiple sclerosis can also cause TN. In some cases, TN may be caused by multiple sources of pain such as cervical spine conditions, TMD(1), and other causes of head and facial pain.

Conventional treatment options include drugs and surgery. TN is traditionally treated through medications like lidocaine, duloxetine and various opiates. When medication fails to prevent the pain of TN, surgery is often recommended but can leave the face numb in certain areas and even then the agonizing stabbing pain of TN may begin to resurface after awhile. This suggests that the root of the pain may be caused by the sensory nucleus in the brainstem.

Complementary approaches such as the kinds of holistic therapies a chiropractor can offer have proven to be effective with TN. Chiropractic care can truly play a very positive role in the management and significant reduction of pain in TN patients.

Some chiropractors offer upper cervical chiropractic (UCC) yielding very good results. At Wagner Chiropractic we utilize the UCC technique to concentrate on alignment of the atlas (the topmost vertebrae in the spine) and improve central nervous system communication. This technique involves a light touch at the side of the neck as the atlas is moved back into its precise position.

UCC performs the following for the treatment of TN:

  • reduces spinal cord tension, in turn relieving irritation to the trigeminal nucleus in the upper neck and brain stem

  • supports improved drainage of venous and lymphatic fluids thereby reducing possible blood vessel pressure on the trigeminal nerve

  • relaxes muscles in the area and alleviates impingement on the branches of the trigeminal nerve

  • facilitates flow of cerebrospinal fluid thus reducing blood vessel pressure to the brain stem

Gentle adjustments, low level laser therapy(1), and acupuncture are also effective complementary therapies for temporarily alleviating the intense shock-like pain of TN and is offered at Wagner Chiropractic. Dr. Wagner may incorporate any or all of these effective therapies into a comprehensive strategy for getting you non-invasive relief from TN. We have treated many patients with terrible TN pain that caused them to have to sleep in a Lazy Boy recliner or who were unable to even talk because of the pain. Many have been helped and the few that haven’t still return to us for pain-relieving neck adjustments.

Please contact our office to see if we can help you with TN pain. Our aim is to help the suffering.

  1. sometimes also referred to as low level light therapy or photobiomodulation (PBM)–a low intensity light therapy

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Endnotes:

“Trigeminal neuralgia: Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trigeminal-neuralgia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353344?p=1.

“Trigeminal Neuralgia | Tic Douloureux.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Mar. 2018, medlineplus.gov/trigeminalneuralgia.html.

“Trigeminal neuralgia and chiropractic care: a case report” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921783

Venfield, Victor. Trigeminal Neuralgia: Living with Trigeminal Neuralgia, a Practical Guide. IMB Publishing, 2014.