Trigeminal neuralgia, or chronic facial pain, may be the result of a condition affecting the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include mild to severe pain, tingling, or burning in the face and mouth, which is often triggered by chewing, speaking, or brushing your teeth. Some people also experience muscle spasms.
How we treat trigeminal neuralgia.
Trigeminal neuralgia can be treated with medications, injections, or stereotactic radiosurgery, but sometimes surgical intervention is required when medical management fails.
Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure often used to relieve compression off a cranial nerve and to treat conditions like trigeminal neuralgia, glossopharyngeal neuralgia, and hemifacial spasms.
A small incision is made behind the ear on the affected side of the face, and a microscope is used to explore the trigeminal nerve to determine the cause and severity of the compression. In many cases, the nerve is pinched by a loop of artery, and the neurosurgeon can reposition this artery away from the nerve to relieve the facial pain.
For some patients, a non-invasive approach is favored for treatment of this condition. We use gamma knife radiosurgery to treat the affected nerve non-surgically in order to alleviate facial pain. This technology allows a high dose of radiation to the affected nerve with minimal dose to surrounding tissue. This is typically performed as an outpatient treatment, with patients going home the same day.
Schedule an Appointment
If you’re experiencing chronic facial pain, call (865) 331-2835 for an appointment or more information.