Sometimes referred to as “tic douloureux”, trigeminal neuralgia is among the most excruciating forms of pain known to man. Pain is centred around the lower part of the face and jaw and occasionally the nose and the area above the eye. The pain, often described as an intense, shock-like pain (resembling an electric shock) is a result of irritation of the trigeminal nerve which branches out to the forehead, cheek and lower jaw. Pain is usually only on one side of the face.
Unfortunately trigeminal neuralgia cannot always be cured. However, the good news is that there are a variety of treatments to manage the pain. First choice for most patients are anticonvulsive medications. If patients develop a resistance to medication, surgery can be an effective option too.
The surgery with the best results and least adverse effects is microvascular decompression. This is a microsurgical procedure in which a compressing artery is gently separated from the trigeminal nerve and an insulating pledget of teflon is placed between the two. This immediately relieves the patient of pain and liberates them from the need for constant medication.
Click here to watch a video of Microvascular Decompression.