Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), or tic douloureux, is one of the most painful afflictions known. It is characterized by episodes of excruciating stabbing or electrical shock-like pains which are confined to one side of the face. The brief episodes of pain last up to two minutes and may occur spontaneously or be triggered by light stimulation, such as washing, shaving, combing, showering, talking, brushing teeth, chewing, eating and drinking. During periods of exacerbation, these pain attacks may occur many times per day and can be difficult to control with medical treatments. Even during periods of remission, TN sufferers may live in fear of the next flare-up which inevitably occurs without treatment.
The most common cause of TN is compression upon the trigeminal nerve root by one or more blood vessels. Such "neurovascular" or "microvascular" compression leads to irritation of the trigeminal sensory system, a state of neural hyperactivity, and Typical TN. There are other categories and causes of TN, including atypical TN, pre-TN, multiple-sclerosis-related TN, secondary or tumor related TN, post-traumatic TN (trigeminal neuropathy), and "failed" TN.
There are three general types of treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia: 1. Medications 2. Microvascular Decompression (MVD) Surgery 3. Various Nerve Injury or "Destructive" Procedures
Decisions regarding the use of medications, timing of surgery and specific surgical procedures may be complex. You should have a good understanding of all of the treatment options. It is also important that your medical team has experience and expertise in providing the treatments you elect to pursue.
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