Signs and Symptoms
- Recurring brief stabs of searing pain on one side of the lips, gums, chin, or forehead; may be accompanied by tenderness, burning, itching, or aching of affected areas
- Sweating (in some cases)
- Watery eyes (in some cases)
The trigeminal nerves are tribranched nerves located one on each side of the head; they begin Just in front of each ear and branch out toward the eye, the nose, and the jaw. Trigeminal neuralgia attacks happen randomly, but can cause such intense pain in these nerves that some people’s facial muscles visibly contract-this is why the condition is sometimes called tic douloureux. The condition is not common-almost all sufferers are older than 50 and most are women older than 70. And although those who do suffer from the condition can find it excruciating, it is not life-threatening. The cause of trigeminal neuralgia is not known, though in some cases it occurs as a result of multiple sclerosis.
Conventional Medical Treatment
Your physician can diagnose trigeminal neuralgia by a description of symptoms, and by first ruling out any orthodontic condition that causes similar pain. Treatment includes controlling the pain with medication-often carbamazepine, phenytoin, or capsaicin. Should painkillers fail, your physician may suggest a surgical procedure to reduce the sensitivity of the trigeminal nerve.
Complementary and Alternative Treatments
There are many forms of facial neuralgia and many causative factors. While rarely able to provide a cure, the chiropractor may be able to provide palliative (symptomatic) relief. Although the treatment can be uncomfortable, direct facial massage can be extremely effective in decreasing the pain and spasms associated with this condition.