Trigeminal neuralgia is a severe neuropathic face pain caused by the trigeminal nerve, which is positioned right behind the jaw and close to the temporomandibular joint. This nerve is divided into three branches that carry sensations from the mouth and face to the brain. There are numerous possible reasons for what causes trigeminal neuralgia to flare up, however, the precise reason is frequently unclear.
One of the most common causes of trigeminal nerve pain is due to the compression of a blood vessel in the trigeminal nerve. This sort of compression is more prevalent in elderly people. Destruction of the trigeminal nerve is another possibility. This is less prevalent, although it may happen to anyone at any age.
Trigeminal neuralgia or TN attack can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Pressure on the trigeminal nerve, usually by a blood vessel that exits the brain stem and erodes the protective covering around the nerve (the myelin sheath), causes irritation.
- Myelin deterioration, caused by multiple sclerosis, is known as a kind of demyelinating disease.
- A tumor on the trigeminal nerve may compress it.
- An arteriovenous malformation is a condition in which blood vessels and arteries are tangled.
- Sinus surgery, oral surgery, stroke, or facial trauma can all damage the trigeminal nerve.
Neuropathic facial pain can manifest in a variety of ways. Some patients feel momentary, sharp electric shocks, and trigeminal nerve tingling. Others might have a constant ache or an uncomfortable burning sensation. Pain may be absent for days, weeks, or months at a time before returning in episodes of various durations.
Pain is typically felt on one side of the face, although it may originate over the entire face in some cases. Women are more likely to experience this disease than men; however, it can affect anybody at any age.
What Are The Causes Of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
The fact that living with trigeminal nerve neuropathy is difficult stems from the fact that it is usually routine daily activities that trigger the condition to flare up. This is why many doctors will recommend therapy, since avoiding regular activities might be both tough and inconvenient.
Trigeminal neuralgia has a wide range of triggers, each with its own set of symptoms. Trigeminal neuralgia attacks can vary from person to person, but certain activities that trigger acute episodes are common:
Caffeine, sweets, and hot foods could be aggravating for certain individuals. These might activate the trigeminal nerve branches that supply sensation to the mouth’s inner surface, or they may be due to how these meals interact in the body.
Extreme Weather Changes
For some people, drastic changes in temperature (either hot or cold) may cause trigeminal nerve pain symptoms, eventually building toward a full-fledged attack.
such as jogging, playing tennis, or even sexual intercourse could trigger an episode of trigeminal neuralgia. In some cases, simply brushing your teeth could set off the pain.
The act of bending over is generally not problematic for most people. However, for those with trigeminal neuralgia, this could put extra pressure on the trigeminal nerve and irritate it, leading to an attack.
Like brushing your teeth, shaving is a regular morning activity for many men. Unfortunately, the act of shaving can also lead to a trigeminal neuralgia attack in some men.
For women, applying makeup is another daily activity that could potentially trigger an episode of trigeminal neuralgia. In particular, mascara and other products that are applied close to the eye area may be more likely to set off the pain.
Blowing Your Nose
Again, this is a common daily activity that most people don’t think twice about. However, for those with trigeminal neuralgia, blowing your nose can put pressure on the trigeminal nerve and cause an attack.
Yawning or Sneezing
These are both natural reflexes that we often cannot control. Unfortunately, they can also lead to trigeminal neuralgia pain in some people.
Alcohol has blood vessel effects as well, leading to dehydration and worsening. Trigeminal neuralgia may be triggered by either of these factors.
Like alcohol, smoking has blood vessel effects that can lead to trigeminal neuralgia pain. Smoking also causes dehydration, which can trigger an attack.
Stress can lead to a number of problems in the body, including muscle tension and changes in blood pressure. These changes can put extra pressure on the trigeminal nerve and cause an attack.
Treatment For Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are a number of different treatment options available for trigeminal neuralgia. The best course of action will depend on the individual patient and the severity of their condition.
Mild cases of trigeminal neuralgia may be treated with over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. More severe cases may require prescription medication, such as carbamazepine or gabapentin. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve the pressure on the trigeminal nerve.
The procedure to unblock the MVD is a surgical operation that takes place in an operating room while you are asleep and necessitates a hospital stay of about a few days. The surgeon will make a tiny incision into the location where the vessel is pressing on the trigeminal nerve, then insert a piece of Teflon between the two to relieve friction.
This therapy is usually suggested for youngsters who are good surgical candidates with no significant health issues. Following MVD, most patients will be hospitalized for 3-4 days, followed by approximately a week of activity limitations at home to recover.
is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that uses high doses of radiation to target and destroys trigeminal neuralgia lesions with pinpoint accuracy. The surgeon uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) to create a 3D image of the lesion, which is then used to guide the delivery of the radiation. This treatment is typically reserved for patients who are not candidates for surgery or who have failed other treatments.
There are a number of different pain management techniques that can be used to treat trigeminal neuralgia. These include medication, nerve blocks, and electrical stimulation. Medication may be used to help relieve the pain, while nerve blocks can help to numb the affected area. Electrical stimulation can help to reduce the pain signals that are being sent to the brain.
The Bottom Line
You’ve most likely learned more about what causes trigeminal neuralgia to flare up and the treatment choices accessible to keep it from happening. Your doctor will make therapy suggestions based on your unique symptoms and health factors, and the majority of patients will be started on a course of prescription medicines before other therapies are considered.
If you don’t have a plan in place to prevent painful attacks, keeping track of what you think causes your pain might be useful. Take note of any increases in discomfort following strenuous activities, illness, particular meals, or any other remarkable event and discuss them with your doctor. This may help you avoid any actions that can trigger an increase in your agony, allowing you to be more comfortable and keeping your pain at bay for as long as possible.