Did you know that roughly 150,000 people in the US feel pain when they smile because of trigeminal neuralgia? It’s a widespread chronic pain disorder that can severely impact your physical, mental, and psychological well-being. Most of these patients seek upper cervical care or take medications like pain relievers and anticonvulsants to cope.
Have you ever wondered what causes this condition? How does it affect an individual? More importantly, what does the trigeminal nerve have to do with the pain?
Trigeminal Nerve Anatomy
A muscle can’t move without the innervations supplied by veins. In the case of the facial muscles, the nerve signals from the brain go through a pair of cranial nerves we refer to as the trigeminal nerve. Each side of the head receives brain signals through a branch of the trigeminal nerve. Furthermore, each side of the trigeminal nerve consists of three smaller nerves called:
- V1 or Ophthalmic nerve – Each V1 nerve branching controls the movements of your eye, eyelid, and forehead.
- V2 or Maxillary nerve – This pair of nerves supply sensation to each cheek, your upper lip, and your upper gums.
- V3 or Mandibular nerve – This pairing controls sensations felt in the lower lip, jaw, lower gum, and the muscles you use to chew food.
Typically, these nerve bundles send signals to and from the brain. However, when the trigeminal nerve gets pinched, compressed, or damaged due to physical trauma, bone misalignment, spinal structure abnormalities, or other problems, the nerve fails to work correctly.
If left unresolved for a long time, the compression or pinching or the trigeminal nerve can progress into permanent nerve damage. This happens because the protective layer of the nerve disintegrates, exposing the nerve tissue.
What Happens When You Have an Inflamed Trigeminal Nerve?
Nothing can be more frustrating than feeling pain whenever you move your facial muscles. Sadly, when you have an inflamed trigeminal nerve, you will likely experience this symptom regularly. Sometimes, the pain only lasts for a few seconds. However, some patients note that they feel the shooting pain for several minutes.
Besides causing discomfort on your facial muscles, an irritated trigeminal nerve can also cause the following symptoms:
- Burning or aching sensation before the searing or shooting pain begins
- Uncontrollable twitching of the facial muscles after the painful episode
- A painful sensation that can sometimes spread to other parts of the head, such as the teeth, jaws, lips, eyes, and forehead
How Common is Trigeminal Neuralgia
As we’ve established above, trigeminal neuralgia is a leading problem in the US, affecting thousands of individuals per year. It’s also among the top reasons why people flock to the nearest upper cervical care clinic.
Studies explain that it can affect various age groups. However, it tends to cause more discomfort in older people or those aged 50 years old and above. It also rarely develops in children. Other studies note that it usually affects women more than their male counterparts.
It also tends to develop in people with pre-existing conditions such as multiple sclerosis due to the increased risks for nerve damage.
How to Confirm If You Have Trigeminal Neuralgia
To determine whether you have trigeminal neuralgia or not, we strongly suggest getting diagnosed by your physician. This will allow you to rule out other causes of facial pain, such as TMJ disorder, nerve injury, migraines, temporal arteritis, multiple sclerosis, or dental problems.
When you go to the doctor for the diagnosis, you will most likely undergo a physical examination. Your physician might also ask about the symptoms you experience, specifically the severity and frequency of the attacks.
Sometimes, physicians may ask you to undergo additional examinations like MRI scans to scan for inflammations or blood vessel abnormalities along the facial or neck region. Other doctors also refer their patients to upper cervical chiropractic practitioners because sometimes the nerve irritation or compression stems from a neck misalignment.
Misalignment along the cervical spine can happen for various reasons, including:
- Physical trauma
- Sports-related injuries
- A sharp blow to the neck or head
- Poor sitting or standing posture
- Previous neck injuries
- Spinal structure issues due to aging
Work with an Upper Cervical Care Doctor
Going to an upper cervical care doctor is now among the first option for patients with trigeminal neuralgia. That’s because upper cervical chiropractic shows excellent potential in resolving the distracting and debilitating facial pain caused by an inflamed trigeminal nerve. It’s a unique approach to healing as it doesn’t require the use of pain relievers or other medications. Instead, it offers to ease your pain and discomfort by restoring balance in your cervical spine.
Studies explain that even the slightest change in the neck alignment can trigger a myriad of problems, including trigeminal neuralgia. Most of the time, the misaligned bones press on nearby structures like muscles or nerve bundles like the trigeminal nerve. When this happens, the affected tissue can get inflamed, causing pain that often doesn’t go away even after taking pain medications.
Unfortunately, the bones will continue to press on the trigeminal nerve until you get the alignment fixed. If you have tried several trigeminal neuralgia remedies but failed to see changes in your symptoms, we suggest getting your neck bones checked. The sooner you have the bones adjusted, the better you can cope with your symptoms.
Find out how you can benefit from upper cervical care by calling a local clinic near you. This way, you can start your unique and sustainable path to healing your trigeminal neuralgia pain.