Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic neurological pain syndrome that affects the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve, one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head.
The trigeminal nerve travels from the brainstem, in the lower brain, to relay sensory signals from the face. As it travels from the brain stem it splits into three branches: the ophthalmic (upper branch) which supplies sensation to the scalp and forehead; the maxillary (middle branch) which carries sensation from the cheek, upper jaw, top lip, upper teeth and gums; and the mandibular (lower branch) which supplies sensation to the lower jaw, lower teeth and gums and bottom lip.
About This Condition
Description of Causes
TN pain arises when one or more of the three paired branches of the trigeminal nerve are damaged or irritated. Damage and/or irritation can be associated with a variety of different factors including: blood vessels pressing on the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brainstem, demyelination of the nerve associated with MS, nerve entrapment in the muscles of the head or jaw, damage from sinus or oral surgery, stroke or direct trauma to the nerve itself from facial trauma.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
TN typically affects one side of the face, but in some cases, the pain may affect different sides of the face at different times or it may affect both sides at the same time. There are two types of trigeminal neuralgia. Classic or typical (TN1) causes patients to experience extreme, sporadic shock-like or burning facial pain that lasts from a few seconds to as long as two minutes. The pain can occur suddenly and vanish or repeat in quick succession lasting several hours. Atypical (TN2) TN is described as more of a constant aching, burning or stabbing pain. Some people experience both TN1 and TN2 at different times and are often left feeling incapacitated both physically and mentally.
Other Considerations for TN
Both forms of TN tend to be progressive with periods between attacks becoming shorter, with the pain becoming increasingly worse and/or debilitating. It often forces people to avoid social situations and normal activities of daily life to try and avoid an attack. Advances in imaging have lead to several recently published research studies that suggest many of these symptoms may have a root cause in injury and/or misalignment of the upper cervical spine. This research helps explain why non-invasive procedures such helps relieve trigeminal neuralgia in so many cases.
How We Can Help
We use many therapies to ease the discomfort of trigeminal neuralgia. Chiropractic care is a great place to start, creating a gentle and lasting correction in the alignment and motion of the spine by reducing spinal cord tension. Proper movement of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) can reduce brain stem and blood vessel pressure. Other effective therapies to correct TN include myofascial release and trigger point release therapy. While integrating multiple therapies, CIN can help you regain normalcy after being diagnosed with TN.
The team of Functional Neurologists at Integrated Brain Centers are experts in helping patients of all ages suffering from concussion and brain injuries.