Many people, when they think of Chiropractors, think all they can help with is adjustment of the back. But there are many different conditions that a chiropractor can help you with that you might not expect. One of these is Trigeminal Neuralgia. Yes, it’s a mouthful. And co-incidentally, it causes a great deal of pain in certain areas of the face – including the mouth.
The Trigeminal Nerve
The Trigeminal Nerve is the main nerve supplying sensation to the face, jaw, gums, forehead and around they eyes. It originates from the brainstem, and passes through the upper neck at the base of the skull. Once the main nerve has exited the base of the skull it splits into three branches – Opthalmic (eyes and forehead) Maxillary (nose and upper lip and jaw) and Mandibular (lower lip and jaw).
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
This painful condition occurs when the protective myelin coating of the nerve is compromised, causing over-activity of the nerve, or when the nerve is compressed in some way. Compression of the upper cervical spine, misalignment of the jaw or the bones in the skull or whiplash can all cause TN, as can a tumor or multiple sclerosis.
More women suffer from this condition than men, and it is rarely seen in anyone under 50.
Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is characterized by mild to severe facial pain. The pain is usually sudden and feels something like an electric shock.. The pain usually lasts several seconds and will come and go for days, or sometimes weeks. A sufferer may experience this intermittent pain for days, weeks or months, only to have it disappear for months or even years, only to return again. As the condition progresses, episodes become longer, and pain more and more piercing.
More often than not, the pain is triggered by something seemingly small and every-day, and generally relates to movement, touching or temperature. Speaking, chewing, brushing teeth, putting on makeup can cause a flare up, as can a cool breeze or a hot cup of coffee.
In the initial stages of the condition applying heat or cold packs to the painful area may reduce the pain of the symptoms. However, it is important to treat the cause as soon as possible, as prolonged pressure on the nerve can cause irreversible damage.
A chiropractor will gently release the upper cervical spine, jaw and bones of the skull to reduce pressure on the Trigeminal Nerve. Dry needling and ultrasound therapy may also be used or address some of the associated symptoms such as inflammation and pain.
Anticonvulsant medication may be prescribed. In extreme cases surgery may be required, however this may result in permanent numbness in parts of the face.
If you are suffering the painful and debilitating symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia, call our Baulkham Hills clinic on 9639 7337 to make an appointment with our experienced Chiropractor.