Last week marked National Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day, which was celebrated on October 7th. It’s meant to raise awareness of this rare disease while providing support to those affected. You can learn more about it here.
About Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN)
Before we can celebrate the passing of this special day, we must first understand what trigeminal neuralgia is. TN is a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve (the trigeminal nerve) that causes chronic pain. It comes in two forms: TN1 and TN2. One can be affected by both of these types, but TN2 is typically a progression of TN1. This condition causes extreme and burning pain in the face, excessive salivation, depression, anxiety, and facial or head contortion. This pain can be triggered by routine activities such as brushing your teeth, shaving, or drinking a hot beverage; however, there is not always a trigger. An episode can occur spontaneously. TN may be caused by multiple things, such as multiple sclerosis, tumors, tangled arteries, an injury to the trigeminal nerve, or a blood vessel pressing on that nerve.
Physical and neurological examinations will be used to find a diagnosis, along with a review of patient history. In order to rule out other conditions, doctors may employ MRIs. Once a diagnosis is obtained, treatment consists of surgery, psychotherapy, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants. Doctors also recommend meditation and yoga.
National Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day
Even though the day itself has already passed, it’s never too late to learn more and support TN patients! There are a few ways you can do so:
- Listen to patients and their experiences
- Learn more about TN and teach others
- Support research in the effort to find a cure
All of these things will help the TN community, even if it’s just giving them someone to talk to or a helping hand. Try your best to raise awareness too, as it helps patients receive faster diagnoses and better treatment outcomes!