Suffering From a Lingual Nerve Injury or Trigeminal Nerve Damage?
The trigeminal nerve sends sensations from the upper, middle and lower areas of the face to the brain through its three branches. The nerve also serves the oral cavity. Damage to the maxillary (middle branch) or mandibular (lower branch) can cause pain in the facial area. The upper branch (ophthalmic nerve) serves the front of the head, forehead and most of the scalp.
The trigeminal nerve can be injured at any point, and the site of the injury determines where pain will be felt. The disorder can be limited to one branch of the nerve, or it can include the other branches. Typically, only one side of the face is affected, but sometimes both sides can cause pain, usually at different times. Even rarer is the occurrence of pain on both sides at the same time. This is called bilateral TN.
Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Sharp facial pain can be an indication of trigeminal neuralgia. Pressure on the trigeminal nerve triggers the pain. Pressure can be caused by blood vessels pressing on the nerve, or a tumor or growth exerting pressure or damage to the myelin sheath, which is the protective insulation of the nerve.
Multiple sclerosis patients may have trigeminal nerve damage as a result of the myelin sheath breaking down. Those who have been diagnosed with MS in early adulthood are at an increased risk for trigeminal neuralgia.
The trigeminal nerve may also become damaged as a result of certain dental procedures, such as wisdom tooth extraction, dental implant placement or other oral surgery procedures. Sinus surgery, trauma to the face or damage as a result of a stroke are other possible causes of nerve damage.
This condition is uncommon. It can affect children, but it is more prevalent in the older population, particularly in women. Each year, about 12 new cases are identified per 100,000 people.
Trigeminal Neuralgia and Lingual Nerve Repair Specialist
Dr. Gregory Levitin of the Vascular Birthmark Center is a board-certified otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon with expertise in treating trigeminal neuralgia. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to pain relief.
An examination of the affected area, along with neurological testing, are required to rule out other causes of facial pain. The patient’s medical history and symptoms are taken into consideration when making a diagnosis. There are several conditions that mimic the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, and an accurate diagnosis is important for determining effective treatment.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
The pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia can be quite severe. Attacks may be mild at first with short bouts of pain. Over time, they increase in number and intensity, with episodes lasting from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. Symptoms include:
- Attacks of pain in areas served by the trigeminal nerve: the forehead, eye, cheek, jaw, lips, gums, teeth and chin
- Pain that is triggered by brushing or flossing the teeth, touching the face, chewing gum, speaking, applying makeup, etc.
- Sudden attacks of facial pain that may stop for some time then resume
- Attacks that worsen over time
- Constant aching or feeling of burning, followed by painful spasms
- Sharp pain that feels like an electric shock
Trigeminal neuralgia may resolve on its own in a few months; however, if it fails to improve or over-the-counter pain relievers are no longer effective, treatment may be necessary to stop the pain. Contact Dr. Levitin for a thorough evaluation and consultation. The most effective treatment can be given with early diagnosis.