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Trigeminal Neuralgia and Trauma | AutoAccident.com

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Trigeminal Neuralgia and Trauma

facial pain

Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by excruciating facial pain resulting from damage or inflammation to the trigeminal nerve, also known as the fifth cranial nerve. This nerve branches into three parts: the ophthalmic nerve, responsible for sensation around the eye; the maxillary nerve, governing sensation in the cheek and maxillary region; and the mandibular nerve, controlling sensation in the lower jaw area. Traumatic injury to the trigeminal nerve can affect any of these branches, typically causing pain on one side of the face.

Suffering from trigeminal neuralgia can lead to ongoing pain and substantial medical expenses. If you or a loved one is grappling with trigeminal neuralgia due to an accident, you may have the opportunity to seek compensation for your losses. Contact our skilled injury attorneys at (916) 921-6400 for free, empathetic guidance. Our experienced legal team may be able to help secure total compensation for your injury.

Trigeminal neuralgia often arises following motor vehicle accidents that result in head, skull, or facial trauma. Individuals with this condition commonly describe sudden, stabbing pain in the ophthalmic, maxillary, or mandibular areas on one side of the face. The pain’s intensity varies, with episodes lasting from seconds to a few minutes. In severe cases, some individuals endure hundreds of daily attacks. Between these episodes, they may experience dull aches or facial numbness.

The pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by seemingly innocuous actions like gentle facial touch, teeth brushing, eating, speaking, drinking, or exposure to cold air. While trigeminal neuralgia itself is not life-threatening, the relentless pain can become so unbearable that some patients resort to self-harm to escape it.

Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by compression injuries to the trigeminal nerve as it exits the brain through a small skull opening. Fractures in this area from falls or motor vehicle accidents can cause swelling that damages the nerve at its root. Soft tissue trauma may affect only one or two branches of the trigeminal nerve, sparing other areas of the face from pain. Inflammation of the nerve or swelling of nearby blood vessels can also lead to trigeminal neuralgia. Additionally, brain injuries resulting from trauma can damage the trigeminal nucleus in the brain, leading to nerve hyperactivity due to central nervous system damage.

Diagnosing Trigeminal Neuralgia

The diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia involves a thorough history-taking and physical examination of the facial area. Patients can typically describe the pain and the affected facial region. MRI imaging may be performed to assess the exit point of the trigeminal nerve and identify any enlarged vessels or skull fractures compressing the nerve at its exit. While MRI scans may not always provide conclusive findings, they can help rule out non-traumatic causes such as multiple sclerosis or tumors near the nerve. Sometimes, nerve damage may not be detectable, even with a normal MRI. Importantly, trigeminal neuralgia is not psychosomatic nor caused by mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.

Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Various treatments are available for trigeminal neuralgia, including medications, alternative medicine approaches, and surgery. Some patients respond to medications typically used for seizures, as these drugs can slow nerve firing. Older antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants can alleviate pain by affecting the brain’s pain receptors. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids may provide relief in certain situations, although they may not permanently eliminate pain.

Surgery is considered when medications fail to provide relief. A standard surgical procedure in such cases is rhizotomy, which involves blocking nerve endings through freezing or burning to reduce nerve impulse firing.

Methods like TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) unit stimulation, acupuncture, massage therapy, and biofeedback have shown promise in managing trigeminal neuralgia, particularly when conventional treatments prove ineffective.

The following video further explains Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Recent Research

Recent medical studies on post-traumatic trigeminal neuralgia have indicated that up to forty percent of cases of the condition result from trauma. Treatment with various methods discussed earlier has shown that nearly half of all patients experience a substantial reduction in pain around six months post-injury. Slightly more than half of all patients report improvements after one year following the injury. Younger patients tend to recover more swiftly, while individuals over sixty years of age often face ongoing pain after a year post-injury.

Although trigeminal neuralgia is relatively uncommon, it imposes substantial disability on those afflicted by it. Treatment options are available; however, nearly half of all patients continue to grapple with considerable and incapacitating pain one year after the injury. These treatment approaches encompass both surgical and non-surgical methods. Often, individuals must explore numerous treatment avenues to discover some form of relief from this frequently devastating condition. Trigeminal neuralgia episodes typically exhibit a cyclic pattern, with symptoms returning even after periods of pain relief, often persisting for many years.

Contact a Sacramento Injury Lawyer

In times of unexpected accidents and injuries, our dedicated Sacramento personal injury law firm is here to offer you the support and guidance you need. With a team of experienced attorneys committed to fighting for your rights, we aim to ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve. Our dedication to your case extends to navigating complex legal matters, pursuing rightful claims, and securing the best possible outcome for you and your loved ones. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for a free consultation. Your well-being and legal rights are our priority, and we are ready to stand by your side every step of the way. 

Editor’s Note: updated 11.6.23 Photo by Mehrpouya H on Unsplash [cs 946]