Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day

October 7, 2014 is Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day.

I have been suffering from severe and constant facial pain for approximately 3 years.  It has been diagnosed as many things, one of which is Trigeminal Neuralgia.  Because I have received so many different diagnoses for this pain, and have one Neurologist who changed his diagnosis after several months of treatment, I am somewhat uncertain as to what I really have or who I should believe.  I usually say that I have a chronic facial pain syndrome, but most likely what I have is Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is sometimes called Type 2 Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN2) or ATN.

Since today is Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day, I wanted to share some facts about this life altering condition.

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The following information is from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (http://www.ninds.nih.gov).

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal or 5th cranial nerve, one of the most widely distributed nerves in the head. TN is a form of neuropathic pain (pain associated with nerve injury or nerve lesion.) The typical or “classic” form of the disorder (called “Type 1” or TN1) causes extreme, sporadic, sudden burning or shock-like facial pain that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to as long as two minutes per episode.  These attacks can occur in quick succession, in volleys lasting as long as two hours.  The “atypical” form of the disorder (called “Type 2” or TN2), is characterized by constant aching, burning, stabbing pain of somewhat lower intensity than Type 1.  Both forms of pain may occur in the same person, sometimes at the same time. The intensity of pain can be physically and mentally incapacitating.

The trigeminal nerve is one of 12 pairs of nerves that are attached to the brain. The nerve has three branches that conduct sensations from the upper, middle, and lower portions of the face, as well as the oral cavity, to the brain. The ophthalmic, or upper, branch supplies sensation to most of the scalp, forehead, and front of the head. The maxillary, or middle, branch stimulates the cheek, upper jaw, top lip, teeth and gums, and to the side of the nose. The mandibular, or lower, branch supplies nerves to the lower jaw, teeth and gums, and bottom lip. More than one nerve branch can be affected by the disorder. Rarely, both sides of the face may be affected at different times in an individual, or even more rarely at the same time (called bilateral TN). Continue reading

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