If wiping away an eyelash from your cheek or brushing your teeth results in an intense, stabbing pain, it’s likely you have a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia. As an experienced neurosurgeon, Christopher Duma, MD, FACS, understands the impact this debilitating disorder can have on your physical and mental health. Dr. Duma specializes in innovative treatments to address the root cause of trigeminal neuralgia pain and enhance the overall quality of your life.
Why a simple touch hurts so much
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition named after the nerve it affects. Your trigeminal nerve is primarily responsible for providing the sensations you feel in your face. Any dysfunction in this nerve can lead to chronic, intense pain.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH), people over 50 and women are more likely to develop trigeminal neuralgia; however. the condition is known to affect people of all ages, including infants. In young adults with multiple sclerosis, there is also an increased risk for developing trigeminal neuralgia-related pain.
In many cases, trigeminal neuralgia results when blood vessels that surround the trigeminal nerve become enlarged and puts pressure on or damages the nerve. Pressure can also come from lesions or tumors that develop in the area. This pressure changes the way you experience sensations in your face, especially in your cheeks and areas like your:
As a result of the compressed nerve, your face becomes significantly more sensitive to even the slightest vibrations. Routine tasks, like brushing your teeth, applying makeup, and shaving, can result in episodes of intense, stabbing pain or electric shock sensations on one or both sides of your face.
Innovative treatments for trigeminal neuralgia
Although the pain you feel when you touch your face may be intense and concerning, the reality is that trigeminal neuralgia pain can worsen over time and spread. For this reason, it’s important that you don’t ignore your symptoms.
Dr. Duma offers comprehensive diagnostic testing to confirm symptoms are related to pressure or damage in your trigeminal nerve and not another underlying medical condition. Once he confirms your diagnosis, Dr. Duma can determine the best method of treatment for easing existing symptoms and reducing the frequency of painful episodes in the future.
An innovative nonsurgical solution for addressing the root cause of your trigeminal neuralgia-related pain involves the Gamma Knife®, a stereotactic radiosurgery that uses beams of gamma radiation to destroy blood vessels, lesions, or tumors that are pressing upon the trigeminal nerve.
The benefits of treatment with the Gamma Knife are many. Treatment with Gamma Knife technology requires no incisions, so you can get back to your usual routine in a short period of time.
Dr. Duma also offers a procedure called microvascular decompression, a surgical technique that requires only a small incision at the back of your skull to reach the structures pressing on the trigeminal nerve. A small incision only requires minimal downtime, and your recovery is much faster than other open procedures.
Schedule an evaluation for unexplained facial pain with Dr. Duma today by calling the office or by requesting and appointment online now.