Srikant, 68, a retired professional was experiencing constant pain in his jaws for the past 10 years. Assuming that it was a dental pain, he visited several dentists to get the ailment cured.
He has several tooth extractions done. However, the pain persisted.
Then he searched online hoping to find the exact cause of his pain. It was then that he began to suspect that his pain was caused because of neurological disorder.
He consulted a neurologist and was then diagnosed with a ‘suicidal’ facial nerve disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN)
Many people suffer from this suicidal disease but is often misdiagnosed as a dental or ENT problem. TN is called the suicide disease because it is a persistent pain condition connected with nerve injury or nerve abrasion and is considered to be the most painful disease. Often, unable to bear the pain, patients are pushed to commit suicide. Bollywood actor Salman Khan was diagnosed with the disease and was treated for it recently.
Trigeminal Neuralgia affects the trigeminal or the fifth carnial nerve, the largest of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves. It mainly happens because of vascular compression or tumor. At an awareness programme held at the Health Village Hospital, Bhubaneswar, Sujata, 31 year old victim of the dreaded disease, says she often cursed herself for being a victim of the disease.
“I had a perfect family and a very supportive husband. But I suffered this pain for 10 years. Nobody told me the exact cause of the pain and I ended up spending lakhs of rupees on treatment that did not help. Finally, people around me thought the pain was imaginary and I had a mental health problem. I was latter diagnosed with this disease and was fortunately treated for the same a month ago. After several years, I am pain free now”, She said.
The neuropathic pain, causes serve intermittent unexpected burning or shock like facial pain that lasts anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes per episode.
“It may aggravate during activities like brushing. It usually affects people after 50 years of age but we have been seeing lot of younger patients these days. The incidence is close to 12 in a lakh. Because of misdiagnosis the cases that come to the hospital for treatment are fewer.”
These attacks can happen in quick succession, sometimes lasting as long as two hours. Dr. Shovan Kumar Rath, consultant pain specialist at Health Village Hospital has treated close to 100 such cases in past couple of years, with advanced RFA.
Treatments of Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Treatment options include medicines, surgery and Radio Frequency Ablation. Dr. Shovan Kumar Rath, an eminent pain physician of Bhubaneswar says that while some cases can be handled through medications, in severe cases, one has to go under the Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA).
- The most effective way is RFA of Gasserian Ganglion and the procedure is done under local anaesthesia in day care basis.
- The cost of the procedure may vary from Rs. 20,000/- to Rs. 30,000/-
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a condition that is characterized by shooting pain in the face
- TN affects one of the largest nerves in the head: the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sending impulses of touch, pain and temperature to the brain from face.
- TN can occur when a blood vessel presses on the nerve near the brain stem, multiple sclerosis or idiopathic.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
- Sudden, severe, electric shock like or stabbing pain that lasts several seconds on the face.
- pain can be felt around the nose, lips, eyes, scalp, jaw and forehead
- Pain can be felt by even the simple actions ob brushing teeth, putting on makeup, touching the face, swallowing or even feeling a slight breeze on the skin.