Trigeminal Neuralgia, also known as Tic Douloureux, is a painful medical disorder, in which a person suffers repeated episodes of severe facial pain. The pain is intense, and can be triggered by touching specific skin areas, also known as trigger points, with cold air. Other activities such as swallowing, speaking or eating, can precipitate the pain. Because eating precipitates attacks, some patients with trigeminal neuralgia will lose considerable weight. The pain is sometimes so severe that patients have been known to commit suicide when it cannot be relieved.
Treatment Options for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Medical therapy is the universally accepted first treatment option with patients with trigeminal neuralgia. Medications are initially effective for many patients, but over a period of time, their effectiveness often times diminishes. Analgesics such as Aspirin, Tylenol, or even Morphine, are generally not helpful for this pain. The primary drug used to treat trigeminal neuralgia is Carbamazepine. This is a drug that is generally utilized to treat seizures. Other anti-seizure medications such as Trileptal and Neurontin are also commonly used. Unfortunately, many patients will suffer from persistence of their pain through medical therapy or suffer side effects from the medications and so need to stop them.
Surgical therapy is recommended for patients who continue to experience severe pain from trigeminal neuralgia or who are unable to tolerate the medications secondary to side effects. Several different surgical options are available, including radiosurgery, radiofrequency, electrocoagulation, glycerol injection, balloon microcompression, and microvascular decompression. Radiosurgery is the most recent and least invasive surgical treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. It has been used for over 10 years for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, and is the least likely surgical treatment to cause complications and uncomfortable new facial sensations (dysesthesias).
Learn more about: CyberKnife Radiosurgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia.