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Trigeminal Neuralgia 

Neuralgia, also called nerve pain, is defined as pain that follows the pathway of a nerve

It can have many different causes. Sometimes a "primary external agent" or cause at a particular site along the nerve pathway can be identified. Chemicals, inflammation, compression of tissues, tissue damage from accident or surgery (including dental surgery) and tumors all can cause nerve pain.

The human face has two trigeminal nerves, one on each side. Each nerve splits into three branches which transmit sensations of pain and touch from the face, mouth, and teeth to the brain.   It is the fifth cranial nerve and contains both sensory and motor nerves. There are 3 branches of the trigeminal nerve:  the ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular.  It supplies sensations to the face, and certain motor functions such as biting, chewing and swallowing.     

Trigeminal neuralgia, damage to this nerve, causes facial pain. Trigeminal neuralgia develops in mid to late life. The condition is the most frequently occurring of all the nerve pain disorders.

The pain, which comes and goes, feels like bursts of sharp, stabbing, electric-shocks. This pain can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.   The pain occurs almost exclusively in the maxillary (along the cheekbone, most of your nose, upper lip and upper teeth) and mandibular area (the lower cheek, lower lip and jaw).   In almost all cases (97%), pain is restricted to one side of the face.

It is sometimes called “tic douloureux” due to the characteristic muscle spasm that accompanies the pain.

This intermittent severe pain interferes with common daily activities such as eating and sleep. There is always the fear of unpredictable painful attacks, which leads to sleep deprivation and under eating. The condition can lead to irritability, severe anticipatory anxiety and depression. It can lead to life-threatening malnutrition.  Suicidal depression is not uncommon.

Doctors usually cannot find any disease of the trigeminal nerve or central nervous system.

Cases in younger women are usually linked to damage of the nervous system.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Causes

The condition has no clear-cut cause.

Some experts argue that the syndrome is caused by traumatic damage to the nerve as it passes from the openings in the skull to the muscles and tissue of the face. The damage compresses the nerve, causing the nerve cell to shed the protective and conductive coating – called demyelination.

Some believe the cause stems from biochemical change in the nerve tissue itself.

Some believe that an abnormal blood vessel compresses the nerve as it exits from the brain itself.

All agree that an excessive burst of nervous activity from a damaged nerve causes the painful attacks.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Symptoms

A defining feature of trigeminal neuralgia is the trigger zone-a small area in the central part of the face, usually on a cheek, nose, or lip, that, when stimulated, triggers a typical burst of pain.

A light touch or vibration is the most effective trigger.   Because of this, many common daily activities trigger the attacks such as washing your face, brushing your teeth, shaving or talking.  It can be caused by wind hitting your face, or eating and chewing.

Many people avoid food and drink rather than experience the severe pain.   It can then lead to weight loss and dehydration.

Between attacks, most people remain relatively pain-free. Some people, however, experience a dull ache between attacks, suggesting physical compression of the affected nerve, either by a blood vessel or some other structure.

Neuropathic Pain

Neuralgia often develops into a condition called neuropathic pain. When neuralgia becomes chronic, it can cause deterioration of the myelin sheath that surrounds and insulates pain nerves.

Then, just like an electrical circuit with exposed wiring, nerves that shouldn't be communicating directly with each other cross paths and create a feedback loop that perpetuates pain.

What can be done?


Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatments and Natural Pain Relievers:

Nerve Damage:

There are many reasons that a nerve can be damaged.  It can come from compression of the nerve, medications, etc.  You can find a full list of the Causes of Nerve Damage.

For more information, and help with this problem, go to Neuropathy 

Pain Relief: 

Dr. Gorgon Ko describes several case studies of chronic pain in the February 2010 "Clinical Journal of Pain." Five patients with neuropathic pain experienced lasting relief by taking high dosages of EPA and DHA. Dosages of 2,400 to 7,200 mg a day contributed to improvements that were maintained for as long as 19 months.

It then follows that the higher the Omega-3 (EPA & DHA) content of the fish oil, the more it will nutritionally support and help your body to maintain normal nerve function.

See:  Cold Water Fish Oil  


What can be done for relief?

We always recommend you take the approach of building health - and nerves are no different. 

You can build healthy nerves


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