Imagine having a high voltage wire touch your face. That is the feeling that people who have trigeminal neuralgia (TN) may feel multiple times in a day for years on end. In some cases where the pain is so severe, people have been known to end their lives to avoid continued excruciating pain. In other cases, people may be unable to eat or drink leading to dehydration and malnutrition. Fortunately, there are available treatments for TN that can provide effective relief in the vast majority of patients.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a rare disorder. Annually, about one person out of 25,000 will develop a new diagnosis of TN. The causes of TN are unclear, but it appears that people who have TN have some sort of heightened irritability of the nerve that conveys sensation to the face. In such cases, things that may not cause pain in most people may cause pain in patients with TN. This can include blood vessels that happen to be in contact with the nerve. In other cases, the nerve itself may malfunction such as is likely the case in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Treatment for TN can include procedures to deaden the trigeminal nerve such as bombarding the nerve with radiation, injecting the nerve with glycerin, compression of the nerve, burning the nerve or cutting the nerve. Additionally in some patients, separation of an adjacent blood vessel from the nerve may provide relief.
VNNC surgeons have long and extensive experience with TN using most all available techniques. We understand the tremendous suffering that this pain can cause and take great efforts to provide quick and lasting relief.