Trigeminal Neuralgia is a disease of the nerve where one experiences most severe, most unbearable pain along the nerve of the face. Trigeminal Neuralgia is the most painful condition ever known to the mankind, more severe than the pain of heart-attack or the labor pain.
Twelve nerves (called cranial nerves) from the brain control the major activities of the head, face, and neck; including the vision, hearing, smell, taste, sensations, and more. One of the twelve cranial nerves is called Trigeminal Nerve since it has three (tri) branches.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an inflammation of the trigeminal nerve which is the fifth cranial nerve arising from the brain. It causes episodes of severe, sharp, electric shock-like pain in areas of the face where branches of the nerve are distributed such as the lower jaw, upper jaw, nose, lips, forehead, eyes, and scalp.
Trigeminal neuralgia is the most painful condition known to the human race and can also lead to suicidal thoughts or depression in some patients due to its intense pain.
Types of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
1) Typical trigeminal neuralgia: Typical trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by periodic episodes of electric shock-like pain on either side of the face which could be triggered by certain activities, such as brushing the teeth, talking, chewing etc.
2) Atypical trigeminal neuralgia: In atypical trigeminal neuralgia, patients experience a consistent heavy, dull, aching pain or burning sensation in one part of the face which gradually gets worse. There is no specific trigger point for pain.
Cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
The exact cause of trigeminal neuralgia is not yet fully understood, however, in many cases, it has been observed the loss of covering (myelin sheath) over the nerve gives rise to the severe pain. It may occur due to an abnormal compression of the nerve by a blood vessel in the brain, trauma to the nerve caused by an injury or during the dental treatment, multiple sclerosis, and tumors around the nerve are some other causes.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia:
The pain occurring due to trigeminal neuralgia is sudden, sharp, stabbing, electric shock-like pain on one side of the face which lasts for seconds or maybe for a few minutes. It is localized either to the right or left side of the face. The bilateral affection of the face is rarely seen.
The pain usually starts along the angle of the jawline and then radiates to the upper jaw, lower jaw, cheeks, head, lips, side of the tongue, or to the chin. The pain may start in any parts supplied by the trigeminal nerve. The location of pain differs with each and every patient.
The pain gets worse by chewing, brushing, gargling, talking, touch, and exposure to the cold air.
The patient may experience frequent episodes of sharp intense pain at every few hours or every few seconds. In between the episodes, the pain is completely relieved and the person would not experience any symptoms. In some patients, the pain is constant dull aching, burning affecting either the right or left side of the face.
Trigeminal neuralgia can be diagnosed clinically based on the symptoms and proper physical examination. There are no specific tests or investigations needed to be done to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia. However, to rule out other pathological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or tumor, CT scan or an MRI is done. So, as a rule, every patient of trigeminal neuralgia is advised to get an MRI done to rule out a hidden tumor.
A. Conventional treatment:
a. The conventional line of treatment comprises the use of anti-convulsive medicines, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, and gabapentin, baclofen, which help most of the patients. However, they are habit forming and need to be continued for months to many years at the cost of several adverse effects.
b. Micro-vascular decompression (MVD): It is a surgical intervention used to relieve abnormal compression of nerve.
c. Radio Frequency Thermo-coagulation (RFTC): It is a thermal pain treatment, wherein radio-frequency needles are used to generate local heat. It blocks the pain signals for a prolonged period of time after the passage of electrical current.
d. Glycerol injection: The glycerol injection is given at a specific spot to block the pain signals. It also helps many patients to get a relief for a period of around six months.
e. Gamma knife radio-surgery: The procedure entails passing radiation beams on the nerve which stops the transmission of pain signals. The pain can be controlled significantly in about 70% to 80% of the patients.
B. Homeopathic treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic and difficult condition to treat, and one always needs a supplemental treatment along with conventional medicines to manage the case in the better way. No single system of medicine is adequate to manage this severe painful disease.
Homeopathic medicines help to relieve the frequency, duration, and intensity of episodes of trigeminal neuralgia. They are absolutely safe and do not interfere with the conventional medicines, and they prove to be an effective alternative mode of medicine. Homeopathic medicines help to control the underlying nerve damage process without causing any side-effects even after they are taken as a long-term treatment. The dose of the conventional medicines can be tapered eventually, and the dependency on conventional medicines can be reduced in some cases. Some patients, who have started homeopathy at an early stage, can successfully stop the conventional medicine over a substantial period of time.