Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition where there is pain affecting the trigeminal nerve. Trigeminal neuralgia can be divided into typical and atypical neuralgia. The typical form results in sudden, severe, and shock-like pain on the affected side of the face lasting from seconds to minutes. Multiple episodes or attacks can occur over a few hours. In the atypical form, patients usually experience a constant burning pain that may be less severe. Episodes of these attacks can have multiple triggers such as a touch to the face, shaving, drinking, eating, brushing teeth, a breeze blowing on the face, smiling, talking, and more, which can negatively impact the patient‘s quality of life.
Both typical and atypical trigeminal neuralgia can occur in the same individual. Since it is a debilitating issue, it can also lead to depression. While the mechanism of how trigeminal neuralgia occurs is unclear, it is thought to be attributed to the loss of myelin sheath of the trigeminal nerve. The diagnosis can be made based on the symptoms the patient experiences after other possible causes are ruled out. The treatment of trigeminal neuralgia usually involves medication such as carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, gabapentin, lamotrigine, baclofen, pimozide, and others.
Surgery is also an option for those who do not experience alleviation of symptoms with medication. Approximately one in every 8,000 individuals suffer from trigeminal neuralgia. It is usually seen in individuals over the age of fifty and is more commonly seen in women compared to men.
Cause #1: Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a disease where demyelination of the nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain occurs. This results in the disruption of communication in the nervous system resulting in mental, physical, and psychiatric symptoms. Examples include double vision, muscle weakness, blindness in one eye, and difficulty with coordination.
Trigeminal neuralgia is one of the early symptoms observed in multiple sclerosis. Since multiple sclerosis is a disease that causes demyelination, myelin deterioration of the trigeminal nerve can result in trigeminal neuralgia.