Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness

This is a post for a parent within the group. 

Her son has several diagnoses, one of which is Trigeminal Neuralgia, also known as TN1 or TN2.

For this education post I am not going to get into medical terms that people outside of the world of disabilities or medicine don’t really understand… I’m giving you the facts, as simply as I can.

Trigeminal Neuralgia is a pain disease. It causes pain in the face that lasts seconds up to 2 minutes per episode. Episodes can happen back to back for up to 2 hours. 
TN1 is where the episodes only cause pain on one side of the face, and it comes and goes. It is the most common form of Trigeminal Neuralgia. TN2 is the less common form, and it is characterized by constant, less severe pain. It is possible to have both TN1 and TN2 at the same time, where one part of the face has severe, debilitating pain and the other part just hurts. I’m not trying to downplay it at all, TN1 can be mentally and physically incapacitating pain. Rarely, both sides can be affected, which is called bilateral TN. Even more rarely, both sides can be affected at the same time.

With TN, there are 3 nerves in the face that can be affected. The upper nerve sends sensation to the scalp, forehead and front of the head. The middle nerve sends sensation to the cheeks, upper lip, teeth, gums, upper jaw and the nose. The lower nerve sends sensation to the lower lip, lower jaw, teeth and gums. TN1 can affect 1,2, or all 3 nerves.

So, what causes TN?
Great question. There are so many things that TN is associated with. Some of them include MS, a Tumor, a tangle of arteries and veins, an injury to the Trigeminal Nerve, or pressure on the Trigeminal Nerve by a blood vessel where it exits the brain stem. The compression created by the blood vessel wears on the protective coating on the Trigeminal Nerve and causes eventual damage to it.

This disorder is not fatal, but it can be debilitating and often is progressive in nature. A person who has one episode per month can suddenly go to having one every week, then one a day then one an hour and eventually the medication often becomes useless and the pain is constant and sometimes enough so that the person can not leave home.

TN is more common in women than in men, and usually occurs after the age of 50, however it can present itself at any time, including just after birth. According to the latest statistics I was able to find, TN occurs in 12 of every 100,000 people.

The options for treatment include medication, surgery, yoga, exercise, acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, meditation, vitamin treatments and other natural treatments. Surgery is not often advised for people who suffer from TN2, as it has more risks and less proven results. As with anything, each treatment option has its own risks, and it’s own success rates. Success rates vary from person to person and all of the treatment options might not be advised for all people who suffer from TN.

Because TN is a pain disorder, it carries a high risk of developing depression and isolation issues. That makes it more important than ever that we educate people so that they understand that their friend is not dropping them, they are in a lot of pain… but a visit would be wonderful. They would appreciate you realizing they want to remain friends, but the pain is just too much to leave the house. 

I hope this has helped to bring some light to a very important topic.

Take care of yourselves ~C

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