What Is Trigeminal Neuralgia and How Is It Diagnosed and Treated?

As a chronic pain condition, trigeminal neuralgia can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional health, as well as the quality of your life.

Board-certified neurosurgeon, Christopher Duma, MD, FACS, understands how overwhelming a condition like trigeminal neuralgia can be. To increase your life’s quality and give you long-lasting relief of symptoms, Dr. Duma offers the convenience of in-office diagnostic testing and a variety of treatments for trigeminal neuralgia.

Learn more about how trigeminal neuralgia affects your life.

The basics of trigeminal neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that causes excruciating pain sensations at even the slightest touch. The disease involves your trigeminal nerve, the primary nerve for providing sensation to your face and brain. When the trigeminal nerve is under pressure from surrounding blood vessels, it becomes dysfunctional. As a result, you experience intense and immediate pain any time you touch your face.

Trigeminal neuralgia makes it nearly impossible to brush your teeth, apply makeup or lotions, or even rub your nose because of the severity of pain. This condition can even cause searing pain when you smile or if a breeze blows across your face. Pain feels like electric shocks or jolts of pain that can last for a few seconds or linger for minutes.

Any area of your face, including your gums, lips, and jaw, can experience pain, which also can radiate out into your cheeks and other areas of your face. Though some people have episodes of trigeminal neuralgia on occasion, it’s possible for the condition to progress and worsen until it becomes debilitating.

Although it’s more common as you age, trigeminal neuralgia can develop at any time, and it often affects more women than men, especially those over 50.

Diagnosing trigeminal neuralgia symptoms

A standard test for trigeminal neuralgia is a neurological exam, and Dr. Duma thoroughly evaluates your reflexes, the area of pain, and your health history.

To determine if nearby blood vessels are compressing the trigeminal nerve, you may need imaging tests, like an MRI, to view the nerve. Imaging tests can also rule out other issues that can affect your trigeminal nerve health, such as tumors and lesions.

Advanced treatments for trigeminal neuralgia

There are several options for treating trigeminal neuralgia that focus on relieving pressure on the trigeminal nerve. Dr. Duma is extensively trained in the Gamma Knife® technology, a noninvasive technology that uses gamma radiation beams to destroy blood vessels, lesions, or tumors pressing on the nerve.

If you aren’t a candidate for Gamma Knife treatments, you may benefit from microvascular decompression surgery. This procedure is minimally invasive and requires only a small incision at the back of your head to remove blood vessels affecting the trigeminal nerve. To prevent additional irritation, Dr. Duma can place a soft, protective pad on the nerve.

There’s no reason to live with the excruciating pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Duma using the online booking feature now or by calling the office today.

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