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Facts About Trigeminal Neuralgia

By on July 12, 2012 in Diseases with 0 Comments

 

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a pain similar to a shock end, burning or electric pain in the face. The pain can be so extreme that it can interfere with normal activity. Even the fear of future attacks can be so stressful that performing daily tasks is a challenge.

The pain can last a few seconds or minutes, then lower and then repeated. Usually, these cycles of pain occur for several days or weeks and then stop for days, weeks or even years before returning. Over time, it tends to be repeated in cycles with greater frequency, with shorter pauses between them.

The pain sometimes is triggered because of very normal activities such as chewing, smiling, talking, shaving or brushing teeth. At times, even the wind on your face can make the pain start.

Some people with trigeminal neuralgia notice numbness or tingling in the face in the days before the attack.

What is the cause of trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia occurs when the trigeminal nerve is pinched or damaged.

The trigeminal nerve connects many parts of the face to the brain. It consists of three branches. The upper branch connects the brain to the scalp and forehead. The middle branch is connected to the cheeks, the side of the nose, upper lip and upper jaw, teeth and gums. The lower branch runs along the bottom of the jaw, teeth, gums and lower lip.

Often, the damaged area of ​​the nerve is at the base of the brain, where the nerve exits the skull and extends to parts of the face. The nerve can be damaged by a blood vessel that gets too close. It puts pressure on the nerve and erodes the lining of the nerve (called myelin).

What tests can help diagnose trigeminal neuralgia?

There is no specific test that can confirm that you have trigeminal neuralgia. Often, the diagnosis is made by ruling out other possible causes of your pain. Your doctor can try to determine the cause by asking questions about your symptoms and medical history. You may be trying to detect other factors that could be causing your pain, as problems in the jaw, sinus or dental problems.

You may also undergo a type of brain scan, called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to see if a blood vessel is pressing against the trigeminal nerve. An MRI can also look for signs of a tumor or other problems.

 

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