Each of us has 12 major pairs of nerves attached to our brains. One of these, the trigeminal nerve, has three branches that control most of the sensations from the upper, middle, and lower portions of our faces, as well as our teeth, gums, and lips.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an agonizing, stabbing, electric shock-like pain that shoots through the the lower jaw, cheek, and forehead. Also known as tic douloureux, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons describes the pain as “the most excruciating pain known to humanity.”
The Effects of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal Neuralgia is usually caused by pressure on the trigeminal nerve where it exits the brain. This can result from disease, damage to the nerves, malformation of blood vessels or compression injuries. Something as simple as a gentle breeze blowing across your face can trigger the agonizing pain. Other triggers may include:
- touching your face
- eating or drinking
- brushing your teeth
- putting on makeup
- washing your face
The treatment options for TN include medications, surgery, and complementary approaches such as upper cervical chiropractic care.
- Medications. Certain anticonvulsant medications have proven effective in treating some cases of TN. Common pain killers such as opioids don’t usually help. Patients may become resistant to medication over time.
- Surgery. There are multiple surgical procedures available. The surgical approach taken is dependent on the nature of the pain and the patient’s preference. Some degree of facial numbness is likely after any surgical treatment and the TN tends to return.
- Glycerol Injections. This procedure requires your doctor to insert a needle to the base of your skull. Once positioned, a small amount of injected sterile glycerol insulates the trigeminal nerve. This blocks the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals.
- Severing the nerve. This is a surgical procedure that cuts the nerve, thus blocking the transmission of impulses. Permanent loss of feeling in the face may result and there’s a chance the pain will eventually return.
- Other complementary approaches. Alternative treatments include electric current therapy and upper cervical chiropractic care.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic of Arizona Treats Trigeminal Neuralgia
Upper cervical chiropractic care can offer hope for this worst of pain. When TN results from compression on the nerve, relieving that pressure allows the nerve impulses to transmit properly.
Three dimensional X-rays show the position of the top two neck bones. There are 274 possible ways for these bones to misalign and interfere with the trigeminal nerve. Upper cervical chiropractic care provides a non-invasive, gentle correction to the alignment and mobility of the upper bones of the spine.
Proper alignment by a chiropractor trained in specific upper cervical corrections improves brain-to-body communication in several ways:
- Reduction of spinal cord tension decreases irritation on the trigeminal nerve
- Allows for proper blood and lymph drainage, reducing pressure on blood vessels
- Muscles relax, lessening pressure on the trigeminal nerve
- Cerebrospinal fluid flows freely, alleviating pressure on the brain stem and spinal cord
If you’re suffering with trigeminal neuralgia, a quick internet search for “upper cervical chiropractor” will get you information on chiropractic help in your area. In the Phoenix area, contact Dr. Anthony Montoya at Upper Cervical Chiropractic of Arizona today to get a consultation.