When you see somebody, you smile. When something comes close to your eyes, you blink. When you bite some food, you chew and swallow. These are all involuntary actions controlled by your brain, through nerves known as cranial nerves that allow the brain to pass signals to your face. There are twelve of them that have different functions and control different parts of your face like your eyes, cheeks and even jaws. Now, you can only imagine that if there is a problem with one of these cranial nerves, then the functioning of your face is bound to be impaired. Of these twelve cranial nerves, one is called the trigeminal nerve, also known as cranial nerve V. It derives its name from the fact that it has three branches.
|V1 – Ophthalmic Branch||Scalp, forehead, upper eyelid and the tip of the nose|
|V2 – Maxillary Branch||Lower eyelid, sides of the nose, cheeks, upper lip, upper teeth and upper gums|
|V3 – Mandibular Branch||Lower lip, lower teeth and gums, chin, jaws and sides of the ears|
Now, if this trigeminal nerve is in trouble, then you would have difficulty in the movement or functions of any of the parts mentioned in the above table.
Trigeminal Neuralgia: What Is It? One of the problems that any of the branches of the trigeminal nerve could face is trigeminal neuralgia, a painful condition that feels like an ‘electric shock’. This causes distortion of your face and damage to the function of the organs concerned, leaving you with pain like you would not have experienced before. This pain can be triggered off with the simplest of activities like:
- Touching your face
Imagine being unable to do any of this without experiencing sharp bouts of pain – that’s how a person with trigeminal neuralgia feels like. If you have shooting pain that prevents you from accomplishing any of these activities, ensure that you have somebody assisting you to a hospital.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Like mentioned above, if the pain feels like an electric shock, then you must inspect for the following symptoms.
- The duration of the pain: Please tell your doctor clearly as to how long the pain lasts for. Trigeminal neuralgia pain typically lasts from a few seconds to several minutes.
- Area of ache: It’s understandable that your whole face would be aching, but are there particular areas in which the pain is intense. Trigeminal Neuralgia pain usually affects eyes, nose, lips, teeth, jaws and chin.
- Nature of pain: This pain is usually an excruciating one, often known to occur only on one side of the face, concentrated over one single spot in a wider pattern.
Causes Of Trigeminal Neuralgia
While the causes of this condition cannot be determined with certainty, yet, there are a couple of factors that are known to induce it:
- Pressure on the trigeminal nerve: If there is a tumour or swelling that is putting pressure on the trigeminal nerve, then it is bound to interrupt the signals from the brain to the face, leading to the condition.
- Trauma or injury: Injuries and other forms of trauma could damage the trigeminal nerve, becoming a reason for the onset of this condition.
- Age: Usually occurring in people above the age of 60, age is one factor that might be responsible for the damage of the protecting layer of the trigeminal nerve. Apart from that illness like multiple sclerosis could also lead to this disease.
Diagnosis: Your doctor will first check for your symptoms and take notes on any neurological disorder that might be present in your medical history. Then, there will be a physical examination that your doctor will check for the following:
- Jaw and facial weakness
- Corneal response to touching. If you blink, you’re in the clear.
- Your doctor will also recommend an MRI just to understand what is causing an issue in your trigeminal nerve.
Your Neurosurgeon will prescribe a few medicines to begin with and check your response and recovery. If your MRI scan reveals a tumour, then you might be suggested to go in for a surgical removal of the tumour putting pressure on your trigeminal nerve. In some cases, radiation therapy is also administered. If you have been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, then the first step for you to take is to get yourself an appointment with a reputed neurosurgeon. We, at Sunshine, have the best doctors and cutting-edge technology to assist you in recovering from this painful condition. With us, you can be rest assured of a pain-free active life.
About the doctor:
Dr Naveen is an expert in treating patients with brain tumor. He is one of the best neurosurgeons in Hyderabad and is sought after for some of the most delicate and complicated brain surgeries.
ABOUT SUNSHINE HOSPITALS:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.