Solving the Puzzle of Pain: Headaches, Migraines & Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN)
Headaches are no fun. Chronic headaches are even worse. And while many believe nothing can top the pain of a migraine, they may not know of trigeminal neuralgia – yet.
They Don’t Call It the “Suicide Disease” for Nothing
Because the pain can be so severe and debilitating, trigeminal neuralgia – TN, for short – is often called the “suicide disease.” Sudden and cruel, episodes may last only seconds but recur up to hundreds of times a day. There may be periods of remission, with welcome relief for days, weeks or even months. It most commonly afflicts people over the age of 50.
The pain originates in one or more branches of the trigeminal (fifth cranial) nerve. You can trace its path by placing your palm over one ear and stretching three fingers across your face: your index finger over your eyebrow, your middle finger across your cheek to your nose, and your ring finger on your lower jaw.
Migraines occur on this same nerve, but the pain is different: longer lasting but less intense. And yes, it’s possible to experience both disorders.
TN most often occurs on the second nerve branch. More than 95% of the time, the pain occurs only on one side, and brief shock-like or stabbing pain can be triggered with even light stimulation. Its lingering pain is a deep, dull ache, similar to a toothache. This may explain countless root canals done without any effect on the pain.
The cause of TN is unclear. There’s no consensus on its origin. MS, some brain tumors and even aneurysms may cause similar pain. Many think it’s caused by pressure from blood vessels near the nerve root; others, by the nerve losing its protective myelin sheath, which causes the nerve to painfully misfire. We’ve seen patients whose TN started after a root canal, extraction or even routine tooth cleaning. It can flare after periods of extreme stress or physical trauma.
Regardless of cause, the result is the same: a perpetual inferno of misery.
Safe & Effective Solutions
As with chronic headaches and migraines, traditional treatment for TN often involves heavy medications – and their negative side effects. Sometimes surgery is ordered, which carries its own risks. Fortunately, these aren’t your only options.
When a patient comes to us complaining of headaches or TN-like pain, we start by looking beyond their pain pattern and history. We consider diet, sleep patterns and how the chewing muscles are working. Has trauma triggered inflammation of the nerve? Has the nerve become compressed? Has it been stripped of its myelin sheath?
What can we do to help alleviate your pain safely and effectively, without drugs or other short-term solutions that do little more than suppress symptoms?
We strive to help our patients with nontoxic therapies. We may use herbs, nutritional supplements and homeopathics. We may use oral appliances to take pressure off the jaw joints, help the jaw line up in a neutral position or reposition the tongue to sit more forward in the mouth. We may use Neural Prototherapy, in which a series of subcutaneous injections is given to help with inflammation and restore the nerve to normal function over time.
One noninvasive approach we’ve had great success uses Dr. Yoshiaki Omura’s Bi-Digital O-Ring Test to identify pathological organisms in and around the nerve, which can then be treated to alleviate pain.
Our successes have led to numerous invitations to speak at dental and medical meetings across the country. Patients who have diligently followed the protocol have reported major improvement and very few side effects.
Contact us today to set up an appointment.