Trigeminal neuralgia is a debilitating nerve disorder of the trigeminal nerve, the largest nerve in the head and the one that is responsible for providing sensation to the face.
Rosie sat down with Paiman Ghafoori, M.D., board certified radiation oncologist at Austin CyberKnife and Ramsey Ashour, M.D., board certified neurosurgeon at Ascension Seton Brain and Spine to talk about symptoms and treatments if you have trigeminal neuralgia.
What causes trigeminal neuralgia?
- Trigeminal neuralgia is associated with a variety of conditions. It can be caused by a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brain stem. This compression causes the wearing away or damage to the protective coating around the nerve (the myelin sheath).
- Symptoms can also occur in people with multiple sclerosis, a disease that causes deterioration of the trigeminal nerve’s myelin sheath.
- Also, but rarely, symptoms may be caused by nerve compression from a tumor, or a tangle of arteries and veins called an arteriovenous malformation.
- Another cause may be injury to the trigeminal nerve (perhaps the result of sinus surgery, oral surgery, stroke, or facial trauma) that may also produce neuropathic facial pain.
What are some signs and symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?
- Episodes, that can arise suddenly, of intense, electroshock-like pain on either side of the face, in the forehead, or along the jaw.
- Pain can be triggered by something as simple as a light breeze to actions like chewing, talking, smiling, or swallowing.
- Because pain is often first experienced along the jaw, trigem is frequently mistaken as a dental problem.
What are the stats for trigeminal neuralgia?
- Trigeminal neuralgia is a rare disorder that affects about one in 15,000 people.
- It is more common in women, and patients are typically middle-aged or seniors.
- The unpredictable, severe pain is emotionally incapacitating and may significantly impact quality of life.
Are there different types of trigeminal neuralgia?
- With typical TN, patients suffer from unpredictable episodes of stabbing, electric shock-like pain in a consistent location.
- In atypical TN, the pain is a persistent dull ache or burning sensation in one part of the face.
How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?
- In the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, pain management with medication is traditionally the first line of defense. While this approach can reduce the effects of the disorder, some patients may require or request additional treatment due to advanced pain or a desire to avoid side effects of current medication. In these cases, the patient may be a candidate for CyberKnife treatment.
Trigeminal neuralgia is treated by the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System at Austin CyberKnife. How does CyberKnife treat TN?
- CyberKnife delivers hundreds of highly concentrated and incredibly precise beams of radiation targeted directly to the trigeminal sensory nerve root, interrupting the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas is the only care site in Central Texas with this radiation technology.
Is CyberKnife treatment effective?
- CyberKnife for TN has been shown to be effective with many patients reporting relief shortly after completing treatment.
- After CyberKnife treatment, the intensity and frequency of attacks are reduced significantly.
- In some cases, pain medications may be significantly reduced or no longer required.
What are the benefits of using CyberKnife for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia?
- There are numerous benefits of CyberKnife treatment, including:
- It’s noninvasive, meaning no incisions
- There is no anesthesia or hospitalization required
- It’s painless
- It’s completed in one outpatient treatment session
- There is little to no recovery time, allowing for an immediate return to daily activities
- There are minimal, if any, side effects
- Due to pinpoint precision of high-dose radiation delivery, there is minimal radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue
To learn more about Ascension Seton Brain and Spine just visit them online. Austin Cyberknife is located on I-35 near the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. Call them at (512) 324-8060, or go to www.austincyberknife.com for more details.
Sponsored by Austin Cyberknife. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.