What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a nerve disorder of the nerve called Trigeminal nerve. It is characterized by intense, stabbing, lightening and excruciating pain along the course of the nerve. The pain originates from any locations of the face and may radiate to sides of forehead, lips, jaws, cheeks, eyes etc. Trigeminal neuralgia always involves one side of the face.
Just Toothache or Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a long lasting disorder which is often diagnosed late. This is because; the pain is often mistaken for dental problems or migraine. One should be aware of the early signs of trigeminal neuralgia. If you have a family history of trigeminal neuralgia, have suffered a stroke or have undergone a facial surgery, you may be prone to have it too.
What are the Early Signs of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
- Character of the pain is always intense, stabbing, excruciating and pain that comes in bouts. Intensity can be mild to moderate in the initial phase of the disorder.
- Prolonged and recurring facial pain on one side
- Facial pain not relieved or temporarily relived by taking pain killers
- One sided facial pain triggered after exposure to cold draft of air, eating anything hard, shaving etc. is often one of the first symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia.
- This type of pain can be experienced in cheek, on the forehead, towards the jaw and upper lips.
- The pain may become more intense over a period of time.
- Pain relived in a warm room or by covering the face.
- Certain activities like brushing the teeth, talking, drinking anything hot or cold, touching may elicit the nerve pain.
What to do if you suspect Trigeminal Neuralgia?
You can make a note of the factors which trigger the facial pain, the intensity, frequency and other causative factors can also be monitored in order to confirm the diagnosis.
When one starts experiencing the above listed symptoms recurrently it is the time to visit the neurologist. Initially there can be an atypical presentation of trigeminal neuralgia which can later give a full fledged picture of the disorder.
A delay in diagnosis may not cause any complications in the nerve itself. However, if your trigeminal neuralgia is due to a rare cause like multiple sclerosis, the underlying disease may progress if not detected and treated in time. Other than that, the continuous pain may lead to anxiety and depression. You may hesitate to clean your teeth or eat less for fear of triggering the pain. This may lead to poor mouth hygiene and weight loss.