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Trigeminal Neuralgia: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that results in chronic pain in the face, particularly in the trigeminal nerve. This condition often occurs in women who are aged over 50, however there are fewer than a million cases per year in India, making this condition a rare one. The pain experienced as a part of this condition can often be triggered by speaking, chewing, or brushing the teeth. There is no cure for this condition and the treatment options mainly focus on making it a more manageable condition to live with.

Trigeminal neuralgia is treated with the help of medications. The medicines that will be prescribed function by blocking the pain receptors so that you don’t feel it. Pain management is a large part of living with this condition and you may be prescribed anti-spasmodic medicines, anticonvulsants, or even botox injections to help you with the pain. However, medication is not the only answer. There are many surgical procedures that can be used to control this condition and make it easier to live with. Some of the surgical options include microvascular decompression and brain stereotactic radio surgery. Since this condition occurs mainly in women over 50, the treatments that are employed take into consideration the patient’s medical history and age. Once the severity of the pain is mapped, the doctor will decide what treatment options will suit you the most.

How is the treatment done?

Trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed on the basis of the type of pain you are experiencing, the part of the face that hurts, and the triggers that activate the pain. With this condition, the pain is often short and sharp and triggered by any stimulation to the cheeks, such as chewing, speaking, or even brushing your teeth. A neurological examination can help doctors understand what is causing the pain. In some cases, an MRI scan is also recommended to get a clearer picture of the problem. Once trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed, the treatment can begin.

When it comes to the medicines that can be prescribed for this treatment, they range in type from antispasmodic and anticonvulsants, to botox injections. Anticonvulsants can help control the trigeminal nerve in the face in order to lessen the pain. Antispasmodic medications also work on a similar principal. Botox injections are also known to lessen the pain in the nerve, however further studies may be needed to substantiate this.

Trigeminal neuralgia can also be controlled with the help of surgical options. With microvascular decompression, an incision is made behind the ear on the side of the face where you feel the pain. The doctor removes the arteries and veins that come in contact with the nerve, and then adds a soft cushion between the nerve and other arteries. With brain stereotactic radio surgery, the goal is to destroy the root of this nerve. A controlled shot of radiation is given to the nerve to make it stop functioning. The relief in this form of treatment is gradual, but the treatment itself can be very effective. By destroying the nerve, you eliminate the chances of it transmitting the pain to your brain.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Once trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed, you can seek out the treatment. It is better to start with the medicinal treatments before going in for surgery. However, if they don’t work, you can certainly explore the surgical options.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Sometimes, pain in the face is caused to due multiple sclerosis. It may imitate the symptoms and signs of trigeminal neuralgia but it is an entirely different condition. If you are suffering from multiple sclerosis, then seeking out treatment for trigeminal neuralgia will not help you with your condition. The doctor must treat the sclerosis first for you to experience any relief from the pain.

Are there any side effects?

As is the case with most treatments, there are certain side effects to be vary of. Anticonvulsants can lead to side effects like dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, and confusion. Certain anticonvulsants have negative effects on people with Asian descent. Antispasmodic agents also have a few side effects such as confusion, drowsiness, and nausea. Multiple botox injections can eventually make it harder to move your face naturally. It can also give you a stiff and shiny appearance. Microvascular decompression has side effects that include stroke, facial numbness, loss of hearing, and facial weakness. Brain stereotactic radio surgery can lead to developing numbness in the face as well. Surgery in general comes with side effects like bruising, swelling, and pain.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

With some medications, you have to monitor your diet and control your lifestyle. Since trigeminal neuralgia can mostly be treated through pain management techniques, identifying and controlling your exposure to your triggers can go a long way in helping you. For instance, if your trigger is a cold breeze that brushes against your cheek, you may have to limit your exposure to the same.

How long does it take to recover?

It can take up to a month for the treatment to start taking effect.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The surgical treatments range in price from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1,50,000, depending on where you are getting the procedures done from.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

There is no cure for trigeminal neuralgia, therefore the treatment results cannot be permanent. The treatment focusses on reducing and managing the pain you feel and you can expect the pain to swing from low to high throughout your life. The trick is to identify the treatment options that work best for you and continue to administer them as and when they are needed.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are a few alternative treatments that are being explored for this condition. One such treatment is injecting glycerol injections at the base of the skull in order to damage the trigeminal nerve in the face. Balloon compression is also a treatment that can be used to damage the nerve sufficiently. Radiofrequency thermal lesioning can also be used for the same purpose. It damages the nerve fibres that are associated with pain.

Popular Questions & Answers

My Mother 81 years old has Total Cholesterol 238, Triglycerides 121, HDL Cholesterol 59, LDL Cholesterol 155, Platelet Count 150000, Haemoglobin 9.7, RBC Count 3.2, WBC Count 4740, Serum TSH 5.6, Cardio HS - CRP 1.16, Blood Pressure 170/80, Echo cardiograph Report (Ejection Fraction 55, Reduced LV Diastolic Compliance), normal blood sugar, normal ECG, normal kidney, normal liver and normal lung. She suffers from chronic high blood pressure (Hypertension), high cholesterol, hypothyroidism (high TSH in Thyroid blood test), Anemia. She also has mild Vitamin B12 deficiency and Vitamin D deficiency. She never suffered from any heart attack, stroke or peripheral artery disease. She never had any stent placement. She takes TELVAS BETA 50 MG tablet (this tablet contains Telmisartan 40 MG and Metoprolol 50 MG) once daily for Hypertension, Thyronorm 25 MCG tablet once daily for Hypothyroidism, Surbex Gold capsule once daily for Vitamin B12 deficiency, TAYO 60K tablet once monthly for Vitamin D deficiency, FERIUM tablet once daily for Anemia. Doctor also advised her to take Zyrova C 75 Capsule (this capsule contains Rosuvastatin 5 MG and Clopidogrel 75 MG). Zyrova C 75 Capsule contains Rosuvastatin for lowering cholesterol, but this capsule also contains blood thinner antiplatelet drug Clopidogrel 75 MG. Does my Mother need blood thinner antiplatelet drug Clopidogrel 75 MG? Can Clopidogrel cause bleeding inside the brain and other parts of the body? Does Clopidogrel start bleeding OR does Clopidogrel prolong bleeding OR does Clopidogrel both start bleeding and prolong bleeding? What happens to a patient taking Clopidogrel if bleeding starts? How does bleeding stop and how long does it take for bleeding to stop?

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