Trigeminal Neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, is a rare disorder that causes recurring episodes of sharp, shooting facial pain, usually on one side of the jaw or cheek. Episodes can be severe and unpredictable, and they can last a few seconds or up to a few minutes.
At CentraState Medical Center, patients have access to the gold standard treatment for trigeminal neuralgia: microvascular decompression (MVD) surgery.
Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve, one of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves that exit directly from the brain. The condition is often the result of a blood vessel pressing down on the nerve, which can happen naturally with age. Much less frequently, trigeminal nerve pain is related to conditions such as:
- Multiple sclerosis or other disorders that cause damage to the myelin sheath that covers certain nerves
- A tumor compressing the trigeminal nerve
- Injury to the trigeminal nerve
Trigeminal neuralgia most often occurs in people over age 50, but it can happen at any age. It’s more common in women than in men. Trigeminal nerve pain can strike for days, weeks, or months at a time and then go away for months or years before returning.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Trigeminal neuralgia can be challenging to diagnose because of the many causes of facial pain. Your physician may order imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT scans, or X-rays, to help rule out other causes of pain.
Pain medication is the first treatment option for trigeminal neuralgia. Complementary therapies such as biofeedback, acupuncture, and electrical nerve stimulation may also help. If these therapies fail to provide adequate pain relief or cause unwanted side effects, then trigeminal neuralgia surgery may be an option. The most effective procedure is microvascular decompression (MVD), which has been shown to relieve pain for most patients.
Microvascular Decompression Surgery
During microvascular decompression, a neurosurgeon uses advanced microscopes and surgical tools to gently move the blood vessel causing irritation to the trigeminal nerve. A few soft, customized pads hold the blood vessel away from the nerve to prevent future irritation.
The procedure is performed using small incisions and minimally invasive techniques, and the majority of patients are back to most normal activities within days.
Susan Lage, D.O.
Vasko Gulevski, M.D.
Paul Kostoulakos, DO
Arun Nangia, M.D.
Maria Choy, M.D.
Terence McAlarney, M.D.
MS Center, Neurology
Rajat Kumar, M.D.
Boris Furman, D.O.
Rajat Kumar, M.D.
Amor Mehta, MD