Trigeminal Neuralgia Symptoms And The Causes Of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is considered to be the most common neurological syndrome in the elderly. Women are three times more likely to get it than men. Over 95% of cases are unilateral. The pain is often described as an electric shock or spasm or burning sensation in one or more of the three divisions of the trigeminal nerve. The pain lasts from 2-120 seconds. The ophthalmic division supplies the forehead, eyes and scalp, the maxillary supplies the cheek and the mandibular supplies the lower cheek, lower lip and chin. The condition has been called 'tic douloureux' because the facial muscles may twitch. Patients can sometimes have a dull ache as a continuous Trigeminal neuralgia symptom.

The trigger can be cold air, washing the face or cleaning the teeth. The pain can be excruciating. The most common cause of Trigeminal neuralgia is thought to be vascular compression resulting from abnormal arterial roots near the nerve root. MRI scans can confirm this. Other possible causes of Trigeminal neuralgia include malignancy, multiple sclerosis, intra cranial aneurysms and cranial arteritis.

Trigeminal neuralgia Management:

After all medical and surgically identifiable causes are identified it is dubbed idiopathic. Carbamazepine (800mg in divided doses) is the drug of first choice. Other treatments include sodium valproate, baclofen, clonazepam and gabapentin. Surgical treatment of Trigeminal neuralgia is possible.

Source: Dr Andrew Dowson

Publication Date: July 2003

 

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