Trigeminal Neuralgia, also referred to as TN or tic douloureux, is a chronic condition that causes severe, debilitating pain in the jaw, cheek, or on one or both sides of the face. Northern Westchester Hospital provides both surgical and non-surgical Trigeminal Neuralgia treatment options to patients who are seeking relief from the symptoms associated with this disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
While the severity of the symptoms, location of the pain and the duration of each flare-up varies between patients, most TN sufferers report experiencing one or more of the following:
- Sudden, severe stabbing pain that radiates throughout one side of the face, the jawline, across the lips, and/or along the scalp
- A constant dull, aching and/or burning sensation in the face
- Intermittent pain that is triggered by light contact with the face or teeth, during activities like shaving or applying make-up
- Anxiety related to a fear of impending attacks and depression associated with social withdrawal
Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms often present without warning, and can last for a few minutes, a few hours, or an extended period of time. For some TN patients, symptoms become progressive, with 'attacks' growing more severe over time, and periods of remission lessening.
Because of the severity of the pain and the difficulty many patients experience in achieving a proper diagnosis and subsequent treatment, trigeminal neuralgia is often referred to as "the suicide disease".
Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
According to Dr. Alain C.J. DeLotbiniere, Medical Director of the Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery at Northern Westchester Hospital, trigeminal neuralgia symptoms are usually caused "by pressure on the trigeminal nerve, which transmits sensations from the face to the brain".
This pressure can result from an enlargement of a nearby artery, leading to a deterioration of the protective sheath over the trigeminal nerve. TN has shown a link to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in some patients.
Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment Options
Northern Westchester Hospital offers patients a variety of surgical and non-surgical Trigeminal Neuralgia treatment options.
While the treatments vary with each patient, Trigeminal Neuralgia treatment options may include the use of anticonvulsant drugs to minimize the activity of the trigeminal nerve; pain medications and antidepressants.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Because TN symptoms can become drug-resistant over time, many patients seek minimally-invasive surgical treatments for their symptoms. Gamma Knife radiosurgery, radiofrequency ablations, and compression of the trigeminal nerve using a tiny balloon implanted under general anesthesia.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery at Northern Westchester Hospital is performed using the most advanced Gamma Knife model available, the Gamma Knife Perfexion.
Gamma Knife Perfexion research reports:
Trigeminal neuralgia: Initial pain relief reported ranges from 78-94%. Long-term pain relief varies from 32-81% across various treatment centers. Level 2 clinical research shows Gamma Knife radiosurgery to have the lowest rate of morbidity or sensory/nerve dysfunction when compared to other treatment techniques. Research also supports that repeat treatment for patients who experience a relapse of pain (after initial treatment) can offer an equivalent rate of pain control. The treatment goal is reduction of or freedom from medications.
To learn more about Trigeminal Neuralgia treatment options here at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, NY, contact the NWH Radiosurgery Center at 914.242.8113 to schedule a consultation with a TN expert.