By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD (Ayu)
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head.
The typical complaints of this disorder are extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to as long as two minutes. These attacks can occur in quick successions. Rarely aching, burning, stabbing pain is also associated.
This nerve has three branches that conduct sensations from the upper, middle, and lower portions of the face.
The ophthalmic, or upper branch supplies sensation to most of the scalp, forehead, and front of the head.
The maxillary, or middle branch stimulates the cheek, upper jaw, top lip, teeth and gums, and to the side of the nose.
The mandibular, or lower branch supplies nerves to the lower jaw, teeth and gums, and bottom lip.
According to the part or portion of the nerve affected the features are produced.
Causes for Trigeminal neuralgia:
TN is caused by the compression of the vessel on the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brain stem. This compression causes the damage to the protective coating around the nerve which is known as the myelin sheath.
The incidences are more in the patients with multiple sclerosis. Rarely, it may be caused by nerve compression from a tumor. Injury to the trigeminal nerve, usually after any of the surgery may also produce neuropathic facial pain.
Features of trigeminal neuralgia:
The pain may be sudden, severe, and stabbing type;it may be more constant, aching and associated with burning sensation. The intensity may be increased by vibration or contact with the cheek (such as when shaving, washing the face, or applying makeup), brushing teeth, eating, drinking, talking, or being exposed to the wind etc
The individuals prone for TN-
Trigeminal neuralgia occur most often in people over age 45-50 years. The possibility of TN being caused by multiple sclerosis increases when it occurs in young adults. The individuals who chew tobacco, smoke, engage in constant movement of the face or mouth like those who are engaged in playing musical instruments through mouth are prone to get afflicted.
Cold climate often worsens the condition. Constant speech, singing and exercise like talking uninterruptedly may cause this complaint.
Diagnosis of TN-
Diagnosis of TN is based primarily on the person’s history and description of symptoms.
The physical and neurological examinations will help the clinicians to find the extent of affliction and damage.
Anyhow other disorders that cause facial pain should be ruled out before concluding the diagnosis of TN.
Some disorders that cause facial pain include post-herpetic neuralgia cluster headaches and temporo-mandibular joint disorders.
Now a day’s people with TN eventually will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to rule out a tumor or multiple sclerosis as the cause of their pain. Special MRI imaging procedures can reveal the presence and severity of compression of the nerve by a blood vessel.
Treatment of Trigeminal neuralgia:
Treatment options includes medicines, surgery, and complementary approaches.
Among the medicines anti-convulsant medicines are used to block nerve firing.
Common analgesics and opioids are not usually helpful in treating the sharp, recurring pain caused by TN.
Since TN is a progressive disorder that often becomes resistant to medication over time, individuals often seek surgical treatment.
Trigeminal neuralgia and Ayurveda:
A few individuals manage trigeminal neuralgia using complementary therapy/ techniques, usually in combination with drug treatment. These therapies include yoga, aroma therapy, accupressure etc.
Whereas Ayurveda understands this condition as a purely Vatic condition and hence Vataja shirashoola line of treatments are applicable.
First of all, all vata provoking factors are to be avoided.Exposure to cold breeze and freezed food are absolutely contra indicated.
Dear readers of easyayurveda.com,many a time in the sufferings like TN people take medication for 10-15 days and remain silent as it is not curable or immediately turning towards surgery.
But careful and regular medication with Ayurveda surely contribute good results.I have witnessed cases which are suggested for surgery are enjoying their life without surgery and by mere Ayurvedic medication.
By Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD (Ayu)