By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published July 7, 2018, Last updated July 26, 2018
What is Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is a term denoting chronic pain in the trigeminal nerve. This means that the person suffering from trigeminal neuralgia will have pain in the facial region.
This pain is often episodic in nature. There may be severe pain anywhere in the facial region for a few seconds. The pain subsides only to return some minutes or hours later.
Trigeminal neuralgia is also called Tic Douloureax. This is because the intense pain causes the patient to contort his face into a grimace.
Types of Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are primarily two types of trigeminal neuralgia. They are known as typical trigeminal neuralgia and atypical trigeminal neuralgia. They are also referred to as TN1 and TN2. In the typical form, there is shock like pain or burning pain that keeps on recurring every few minutes or hours. Each episode may last for a couple of seconds or minutes. One episode of such intermittent pain may last for a couple of hours. In the atypical form, there is mild aching or stabbing pain or burning sensation in the facial region. The pain or discomfort is constant. It is not uncommon for both forms to occur in the same person.
What is Trigeminal Nerve?
Trigeminal nerve is one of the twelve cranial nerves. While all the functions of the body are controlled by the brain through nerves passing through the spinal cord, there are twelve cranial nerves that do not pass through the spinal cord. These nerves directly connect to the head and neck. These nerves control the sensory and muscle functions of the head and neck. Trigeminal nerve is one of these twelve nerves. It has 3 branches. That is precisely why it is known as trigeminal nerve. The ophthalmic branch controls the eye, upper eyelid and forehead. The maxillary branch controls the lower eyelid, cheek, side of the nose, upper lip and gums. The mandibular branch controls the jaw, lower lip, lower gums and the muscles used for chewing.
What are the causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
It is in most cases idiopathic in origin. This means that there is no certain cause. It is a case of the nerve being overactive or getting irritated for no rhyme or reason. It just starts sending pain signals to the brain without any reason. In some cases, the trigeminal nerve is pressed upon or irritated by one or the other reason. This could be due to a tumor, an aneurysm or a blood vessel pressing upon the nerve. Trauma or some injury to the nerve or the brain can also be the cause. In some cases, the myelin sheath which is the outer covering of the nerve gets irritated or inflamed. This can happen in diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Sarcoidosis, Lyme disease or SLE.
Incidence of Trigeminal Neuralgia
It is more common in people above the age of 50. Among men and women, women are more likely to suffer from this problem. It may also run in families. This is probably due to the way blood vessels are formed in the brain. It may also be linked to hypertension.
What triggers the pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Certain factors have been identified that tend to trigger the pain. The common triggers are-
- Brushing one’s teeth
- Washing or touching one’s face
- Going out in wind
- Applying make up
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Pain is felt in the jaw, lips, eye, cheek, teeth, gums, lips or even in the forehead region.
- Pain is usually on one side of the face.
- Pain is triggered by seemingly innocuous activities like brushing one’s teeth or shaving or washing one’s face.
- There may be severe episodic pain that is more like an electric shock. In some cases, it is described as stabbing or shooting pain.
- The pain may last for some seconds or minutes. One feels better after that time interval but the pain returns after some time.
- Such episodes may last for weeks or months without resolution.
Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia
In some cases, when there is a tumor or a physical cause, a surgery may be helpful. But as mentioned earlier, most cases of Trigeminal Neuralgia are idiopathic in nature.
The conventional or allopathic system of medicine depends upon painkillers to relieve the patient. Often anticonvulsants are given to relieve pain. In some cases doctors add muscle relaxants too. When these do not suffice to provide relief, some anti depressants are also given. All the above mentioned medications are not even meant to cure the disease. They just give momentary relief from pain. Therefore, patients get fed up of taking painkillers. They look for permanent solution to their problem and not just momentary relief.
Homeopathic treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Homeopathy is much more suited for the permanent treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. In idiopathic cases, it tends to slowly set the trigeminal nerve back in order. The nerve stops getting irritated. This means that it starts getting back to its normal functioning. Of course, it does not happen overnight. One has to be patient. The treatment may take a few months. But the rewards of this patience are overwhelmingly good. One can get back to his normal self and lead a life completely free of any medication.
5 best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia
The 5 medicines mentioned below are often used in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. These medicines are in no way the only medicines used. One has to often go beyond this small list depending upon the symptoms of the patient. That choice is best left to an experienced homeopathic doctor.
Ars Alb- One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia with burning pains
China- One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia with intolerance to touch
Mag Phos- One of the best medicines for trigeminal neuralgia with relief from warmth
Arnica- The best homeopathic medicine for trigeminal neuralgia due to injury
Belladonna- The best homeopathic medicine for trigeminal neuralgia with sudden pulsating pains
A brief description of the symptoms of the above mentioned medicines is given below-
Ars Alb – One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia with burning pains.
When the pains are burning in nature, Arsenic Album is one of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia. The pains may even be tearing and needle like in nature. There is pale and yellow discoloration of the face. There is increased anxiety and restlessness. Thirst is increased though drinks a little at a time. There is great weakness and exhaustion.
Belladonna – One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia with sudden pulsating pains.
When the pains are pulsating in nature, start suddenly and stop suddenly, Belladonna is one of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia. The face is red and hot with throbbing or pulsating pains. There is great deal of mental excitement. There is hyperesthesia of all the senses. There is dryness of mouth with aversion to water.
China – One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia with intolerance to touch.
When the patient cannot bear the slightest touch to the affected part, China is one of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia. The ironic part is that the same patient feels better from pressing the affected part. The pains come on alternate days. This periodicity is quite marked. Often the origin of the problem can be traced to some blood loss or a debilitating disease.
Arnica- One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia due to an injury.
When an injury or trauma is known to have triggered the problem, Arnica is one of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia. The patient feels sore and bruised as one feels after an injury. The face feels heavy and sunken.
Mag Phos – One of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia which is relieved by warmth.
When the excruciating pains are better by applied warmth, Mag Phos is one of the best homeopathic medicines for trigeminal neuralgia. There may be swelling of the face, throat and neck. Patient feels tired and indisposed to work.