Trigeminal Neuralgia is a fairly rare condition and is thought to affect around 1 in 10,000 people. The usual ages range is between the ages of 50 and 60. For those affected, it can be very debilitating and the treatment options to date are limited.
If you are a Trigeminal Neuralgia sufferer, this article provides you with an insight into your condition, and will briefly review the risk factors, complications, and most importantly the treatment options that are available to you.
The good news is, there’s a breakthrough treatment available for trigeminal neuralgia sufferers that will relieve some of your symptoms, and it is called PainShield. The device uses safe and non-invasive ultrasound technology to lessen the pain and discomfort you are experiencing.
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal Neuralgia, sometimes called tic douloureux is typically defined as severe, episodic facial pain. This is caused by the compression of one or more branches of the fifth (trigeminal) cranial nerve. This is the largest nerve inside your skull, which transmits sensations of pain and touch from your face, teeth and mouth to your brain. It can feel like it is coming from one or more teeth so many people visit their dentist to begin with. In around 95% of cases, this compression is usually caused by a nearby blood vessel pressing on part of the nerve inside the skull.
Typically, the maxillary or mandibular branches are affected, (cheek or lower jaw) either alone or in combination. Involvement of the ophthalmic (eye) branch alone is uncommon, and only 3% of cases are bilateral.
In rare cases, Trigeminal Neuralgia can occur as a result of damage to your trigeminal nerve, caused by an underlying condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a tumour. For some people, it is a sudden severe sharp pain like an electric shock but for others, it may be a long-lasting aching or burning sensation. It typically occurs as sudden short attacks lasting from a few seconds to a couple of minutes; however, for others, these attacks occur many times throughout the day.
Some people are aware that an attack is coming but, for most, it arrives without warning. Sudden attacks of pain can be triggered by a variety of different factors including touching your face, talking, cold wind, vibration, and even cleaning your teeth.
What are the risk factors for Trigeminal Neuralgia?
- Multiple sclerosis.
- Advancing age — trigeminal neuralgia is rare in people under 40 years old. Most incidences are between ages 50 and 60 years, increasing as we get older.
- Being Female.
- Family history is rare but has been known.
What complications are associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia?
- Impairment of activities of daily living.
- Weight loss caused by the inability to eat due to pain.
What are the treatment options available for Trigeminal Neuralgia?
If standard painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen do not help then it is important to visit your GP.
The first treatment you will be offered is usually an anticonvulsant medication, which helps relieve nerve pain by slowing down the electrical impulses in the nerves and reducing their ability to transmit pain messages.
To be effective, this medication needs to be taken several times a day, with the dose gradually increased over the course of a few days or weeks, so that sufficient levels of the medication can build-up in your bloodstream.
If this medication is ineffective, unsuitable, or causes too many side effects, you may be referred to a specialist to discuss alternative medications or surgical procedures that may help.
There are a variety of minor surgical procedures that can be used to treat your condition, usually by damaging the nerve to stop it from sending pain signals, however, these are generally only effective for a few years.
Alternatively, your specialist may recommend having a more significant surgery to remove any blood vessels compressing your trigeminal nerve. Research suggests this operation offers the best long-term pain relief, however, the operation may cause potentially serious complications, including hearing loss, facial numbness, or very rarely a stroke.
PainShield – A New Treatment available for Trigeminal Neuralgia
PainShield offers some hope to sufferers of Trigeminal Neuralgia, with 3 separate trials showing high levels of effectiveness without the adverse side effects associated with other treatment options.
The success of the PainShield device has shown vast improvements in the user’s Quality of Life; improving jaw movement, reducing reliance on pain medication, reducing levels of anxiety, and improving mood.
Summary of the device:
PainShield is an ultrasound device, consisting of a reusable driver unit and a disposable patch. It delivers a localized ultrasound effect to treat pain and induce soft tissue healing in a target area. The level of ultrasound energy is kept at a safe and consistent level of 90kHz.
PainShield is a simple, wearable device that allows the delivery of ultrasound treatment for up to 6.5 hours. We believe that PainShield is the smallest and most portable therapeutic ultrasound device on the market. It is the only product in which the ultrasound transducer is integrated with a therapeutic disposable application patch.
How to use PainShield to target your pain:
If your pain is originating in your Maxillary Nerve (V2) we recommend that you place the actuator patch onto your cheekbone
It is recommended to place the actuator next to your lower jawbone if your pain is originating from your Mandibular Nerve (V3).
Sometimes the area of your face is just too painful to apply the patch direct so we recommend that you apply it to your forehead on the pain-free side.
In rare cases, some people may feel an initial increase in the pain before the benefits of the treatment are evident. If this happens to you we suggest that you increase the length of time gradually. We recommend that you apply treatment for an initial 2-3 hours, before gradually increasing up to 6.5 hours as tolerated.
Apply the first and second treatments while you are awake. You can subsequently apply treatment during sleep.
Please refer to our product information page to see if you are suitable for the PainShield Device. You should also contact a medical professional prior to use. Please contact our customer service team for any further questions or to order your device on: 0208 773 7844
Can Trigeminal Neuralgia be cured?
The general consensus is unfortunately no. Sometimes Trigeminal Neuralgia may go away on its own without any treatment, but in most cases this doesn’t happen. Your condition would continue to progress and eventually worsen instead of improving. So, basically, it starts with milder symptoms but then over a period of time it advances, and the pain intensifies.