3 Ways You Can Manage Trigeminal Neuralgia

Aug 03, 2023
3 Ways You Can Manage Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia originates with nerve irritation in the face and is extremely painful. While the condition can’t be cured in many cases, the pain can usually be controlled with medication.

Each year, about 150,000 Americans receive a diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia (TN). An irritation of part of the trigeminal nerves in your face, TN produces a sharp and severe electrical stabbing pain until the wave of pain subsides. 

The cause of the nerve irritation isn’t always straightforward. For complete care, you need experienced neurosurgeons well-versed in diagnosing and treating TN. In Long Beach, California, visit the team at Coast Neurosurgical Associates. We can assess your condition and guide you through treatments until your pain is controlled. 

Anatomy of the trigeminal nerves

From “tri,” meaning three, and “gemini,” suggesting twins, the trigeminal nerve’s name indicates its structure. The largest sensory nerves in your face, three branches of the trigeminal nerve report most of the sensations you feel to your brain. There’s one set of these branches covering each side of your face. 

How TN begins

It’s not fully understood why TN starts. It may be associated with an injury to the face or a secondary cause like cysts, tumors, or multiple sclerosis. In many cases, TN emerges spontaneously. 

One common cause is thought to be nerve compression due to contact with nearby blood vessels in the face. The pressure typically happens at the point where the trigeminal nerve enters the brain. The nerve responds by creating a dysfunctional report of pain. 

The cycle of TN attacks

The symptoms of TN usually arrive in clusters. You’ll have a period with frequent TN attacks before they subside. These clusters may lay dormant for weeks, months, or even years before returning. For many people, the attacks grow in intensity while the dormant periods get shorter. That is why treatment is essential. 

Types of TN pain

TN pain type 1 presents as an intensely sharp burning or electric shock sensation affecting the jaw, lips, nose, eyes, forehead, or scalp. TN1 often gets more frequent with longer-lasting attacks. 

TN pain type 2 is less intense but of longer duration. It may be more of an aching pain, but it can still feature burning or stabbing episodes less severe than T1 pain. 

3 ways you can manage trigeminal neuralgia

To control TN, opt for a treatment plan developed by our team at Coast Neurosurgical Associates.

That said, you can reduce pain at home by using these three strategies. 

Know your triggers

Certain activities or conditions can trigger a TN episode. Common triggers include: 

  • Touching the skin of your face
  • Washing your face
  • Shaving
  • Applying makeup
  • Blowing your nose
  • Sneezing
  • Chewing
  • Hot or cold beverages
  • Feeling a light breeze on your face

Moving your mouth, such as when talking or smiling, can be enough to set off a TN attack. 

Apply pressure

While light contact can trigger a TN attack, firm pressure over the symptomatic area can sometimes relieve pain. While it may seem counterintuitive, increasing pressure may produce more effective relief. 

Add heat or cold

Though sometimes temperature sensitivity is a trigger, hot or cold compresses may also be a source of relief. Generally, heat works better, but everyone responds differently. 

Contact Coast Neurosurgical Associates to schedule a consultation for TN treatment. You can reach our office by phone or through the online booking link.