Trigeminal Neuralgia

South Valley Neurology

Neurologists & Pediatric Neurologists located in Morgan Hill, CA & San Jose, CA

Every year, more than 150,000 Americans receive a diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia. This condition can affect anyone, but it’s especially common in those who are 50 and older. At South Valley Neurology, the team develops customized treatment plans to safely manage trigeminal neuralgia. To schedule an appointment today, call the office in San Jose, California, for pediatric care or the office in Morgan Hill, California, for teenagers and adults, or use the online booking tool.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Q & A

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by recurrent pain in your face. The trigeminal nerve connects the nerves in your face to your brain. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, even slight touches and other sensations on your face can cause excruciating pain. In other cases, the facial pain is dull, constant, and unprovoked.

The condition can come from several different causes. Many cases of trigeminal neuralgia result from pressure on the trigeminal nerve from a nearby blood vessel. Other cases are associated with neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis or stroke. Rarely, a facial tumor places the responsible pressure on the trigeminal nerve.

What are some common triggers for trigeminal neuralgia?

Some surprisingly mild triggers can kickstart severe trigeminal neuralgia pain. In fact, nearly any action that you can name involving your face may be a trigger for trigeminal neuralgia. Such triggers include:

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Applying makeup
  • Shaving
  • Kissing
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Smiling
  • Talking
  • Feeling a breeze

Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms often come and go, staying dormant for some time before flaring up again. For many people with the condition, the symptoms get worse over time, and pain-free periods start to diminish or disappear entirely. Medications for trigeminal neuralgia can become less effective the longer you take them. 

How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?

Your doctor at South Valley Neurology thoughtfully creates your trigeminal neuralgia treatment plan with an individualized approach to ensure relief of your symptoms. In order to help calm your trigeminal neuralgia, they may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

Radiosurgery

During radiosurgery, your doctor directs a beam of radiation near the root of your trigeminal nerve. The radiation damages it to reduce the sensations that you feel from it. You can get the procedure again if your pain redevelops.

Radiofrequency (RF) ablation

RF ablation disables the nerve fibers responsible for the pain in your face. Your doctor at South Valley Neurology sedates you, then inserts a needle through a hole in the base of your skull. They wake you up out of sedation briefly as they pass an electrical current through the needle and ask you to report any tingling that you feel as they move it along the nerve. Once your doctor locates the section of the trigeminal nerve associated with your pain, they put you back under sedation and damage that section of the nerve with heat energy.

Microvascular decompression

During microvascular decompression surgery, your doctor makes an incision behind your ear and a small hole in your skull on the side where the pain originates. They carefully move any arteries in contact with your trigeminal nerve and place a cushioning object between them. If veins are coming in contact with the nerve, your doctor may remove them entirely.

Trigeminal neuralgia isn’t life-threatening, but it can impact every aspect of your life. To find a way to ease your trigeminal neuralgia, call South Valley Neurology or reserve an appointment online today.