Portland Trigeminal Neuralgia

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal Neuralgia has several names. It is as TN. It is also known as Tic douloureux, Fothergill Disease, or Trifacial Neuralgia. You find the less common terms in the research literature. Trigeminal Neuralgia is the best for searching for information.
It is a condition in which the fifth cranial nerve (trigeminal nerve) causes pain into the face. The pain presents on one side fo the face at the area of the mouth, cheek, jaw, and occasionally the nose. The pain can be sharp intense bursts of pain or dull aching pain. The intense pain will typically only last for seconds and then decreases. The dull pain may last longer for minutes or hours. For some people, the pain can persist for days at a time. The episodes of pain vary greatly. Some people experience pain very infrequently. Others may feel the pain in many episodes every day.

A good article and reference for this post is at the National Organization for Rare Disease and search Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Why does this happen?

Trigeminal Neuralgia may not have a clear explanation of why the pain is present. This is idiopathic TN. In some cases, there is evidence that an artery running near the nerve is pressing on it. Doctors believe this is what causes pressure on the nerve. The pressure then creates the pain experience. In other cases, there may be degeneration of the nerve sheathing.  The sheath has compression on it from nearby structures or inflammation. In most cases, doctors are unsure of the exact cause. They can make the diagnosis bases on the pain pattern and location.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

How can Trigmeinal Neuralgia be treated?

Treatment of TN can be difficult. Using a prescription drug is a typical method to stop the pain. The use of anti-seizure drugs is most common. These strong drugs decrease the signal from the nerve to the brain and can be effective ways to treat it. Other prescription drug methods include the use of muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory drugs. These try to take the pressure off the nerve to decrease or resolve the symptoms.
In cases that prescription drugs do not work, doctors may recommend surgical procedures. When the artery is the cause the Janetta method sugery can correct it. This method moves the artery away and a cushion is set between the nerve and artery. Other surgical options include ways to damage the nerve. It will interfere with the transmission of the nerve signal. Radiation, cutting, constricting, or other procedures are all options. Depending on the procedure pain relief is not a guarantee. In some cases, the pain may come back after several years.

Images from Weill Cornell Medical College

When should chiropractic therapy be considered?

Chiropractic may be an option to help decrease pressure on the area. The Atlas Orthogonal technique helps many people suffering from TN. The technique uses x-ray imaging to evaluate the first vertebrae. The atlas is in the area under the ear and behind the jaw bone. If the alignment of the first vertebrae is off, it may cause pressure. The increased pressure in the area near the trigeminal nerve will cause irritation. 
There are many reasons to choose chiropractic care to treat trigeminal neuralgia. Many people want to avoid using prescription drugs. Others will only use surgery as a last resort. Some have tried other treatments without success. For any of these situations, chiropractic care is a great option. Especially Atlas Orthogonal upper cervical care.  A gentle adjustment to correct a misalignment can be a simple solution.

Our experience has shown this method to be helpful in decreasing and even resolving TN pain. It has been a rewarding experience to see patients find a non-invasive way to find relief. To learn more about the Atlas Orthogonal technique or upper cervical care click the links.