What It Feels Like
Have you ever had a toothache? If so, then you may have an idea of what it feels like to suffer from trigeminal neuralgia (TGN). If you experience sharp, shooting pain in your cheek or jaw, it may be more than a dental problem. The onset of trigeminal neuralgia (TGN) is often described as severe, sudden, intense, and electric shock-like episodes of pain on one side of the face.
What Is TGN?
Your trigeminal nerve is the largest nerve in your head. It sends sensory and impulse signals to your brain from your face, forehead, jaw, gums and the area surrounding your eyes. In other words, it is responsible for the movement of your facial muscles and the sensory information they receive. Arteries, or blood vessels, are known to lengthen as you age. Your episodes of pain may be caused by looping and elongated blood vessels surrounding (or pressed against) your trigeminal nerve. The pulsating artery affects your nerve, causing the fibers to fray and short circuit with each heartbeat.
How Can It Be Treated?
When severe facial pain affects your quality of life, it may be time to seek the most sought-after treatment for TGN; Microvascular decompression (MVD). MVD is a surgical method used to treat symptoms experienced from facial nerve conditions. You may consider surgery if medical treatments, such as intravenous pain medications, are ineffective.
Microvascular Decompression: How It Works
MVD is the most common surgical option if you experience severe facial pain stemming from TGN or other cranial nerve-related conditions. This minimally invasive surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Neurosurgeons will shave the hair behind your ear to make a quarter-sized (less than 3 inches) incision through which a small portion of your skull is removed. The surgeons carefully navigate state-of-the art tools, along with a camera, towards your affected nerve. Once your nerve is located, neurosurgeons can separate the blood vessel from the nerve by either spacing the area with Teflon padding or relocating the artery. Following the artery’s removal, a thin titanium mesh is placed over the opening and is securely screwed into place to serve as a cover.
Why Choose A Minimally Invasive MVD?
If you decide to undergo an MVD procedure, there are several potential benefits that accompany the surgery. Hospital stays are typically only one to two nights. 95% of patients who have the procedure report feeling rapid pain relief immediately following surgery, along with a decrease in facial numbness. 90% of patients report complete pain relief altogether. Trigeminal neuralgia is not a fatal disorder, but if you do not treat the condition, it can be extremely painful and may cause complications in your everyday life.
IGEA Can Help Improve Your Quality of Life
At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, we value our patients’ desire to fully enjoy every day of their lives. Living a pain-free life is your right, so don’t let trigeminal neuralgia infringe upon that. Ask your doctor about how microvascular decompression might be right for you. At IGEA, we aim to make pain management and recovery a top priority through expert performance of microvascular decompressions and other forms of cranial surgery. Contact one of our board-certified neurosurgeons of New Jersey at 908-219-9673 for more information.