Neuralgia

Overview

Neuralgia refers to severe nerve pain that occurs due to nerve damage, nerve irritation, infection or other diseases. It is also called neuropathy or trigeminal neuralgia pain and commonly affects the older adults.

Symptoms of Neuralgia:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms include -
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Sharp pain
  • Muscle Weakness

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Causes of neuralgia

The exact cause of the condition is not completely understood. However, it may be caused by damage or injury to trigeminal nerve. The pain episodes may be triggered by light stimulation on the cheeks such as from talking, eating etc.

Types of neuralgia

  • Postherpetic neuralgia: It can occur anywhere in the body due to viral infection and results into painful rash and blisters.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia: It is the trigeminal nerve pain that affects the different parts of the face. When the blood vessel press down on the nerve , it results into pain.

    Trigeminal neuralgia causes include the irritation of the trigeminal nerve by a blood vessel or swelling in the brain. Its main symptom is severe facial pain. It usually affects one side of the face and occurs in the teeth, lower jaw, upper jaw, cheek or in the forehead or the eye.
  • Glossopharyngeal neuralgia: This type of neuralgia occurs in glossopharyngeal nerve and causes pain in the neck and throat.

Diagnosis

To diagnose trigeminal neuralgia, doctor checks the detailed medical history and perform neurological test. The neurological examination help doctor to determine where the pain is occurring and which branch of trigeminal nerve is affected. Through MRI, trigeminal nerve damage is checked. The facial pain can occur due to different medical conditions, so an accurate diagnosis is important.

Treatment Options

Trigeminal neuralgia treatment includes medications. However, some people do not respond to medications or they experience side effects. For those people, injections or trigeminal neuralgia surgery is the best occipital neuralgia treatment option.  

Medications

The doctor prescribe medications that can reduce or block the pain signals sent to the brain.
Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin or carbamazepine
Antispasmodic agents such as baclofen may be used alone or in combination with carbamazepine.
Botox injections may reduce pain from trigeminal neuralgia

Surgery

Surgical options for trigeminal neuralgia include:

Microvascular decompression: It involves relocation or removal of blood vessels which are in touch with the trigeminal root to stop the nerve from malfunctioning.

Brain stereotactic radiosurgery involves the radiation to the root of trigeminal nerve which damages the trigeminal nerve and reduce pain.

Trigeminal neuralgia is not life-threatening but it can be very painful and affect the quality of life. Some individuals manage it with medications, while others opt for trigeminal neuralgia surgery. 

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