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If you are dealing with facial pain or hemifacial spasm, it is recommended you see your doctor right away. That way, you can get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your pain and can get started on the correct treatment right away. Working closely with a specialist can help you manage your symptoms and get you back to your normal activities.

There are various symptoms of facial conditions. These symptoms may include:

  • Electric-like shooting pain in one side of your face
  • Eye twitching and pain
  • Jaw spasm and pain
  • Ear pain
  • Burning pain on one side of your face

If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor to get a diagnosis of the cause of your pain.

Causes of Facial Pain

There are many different causes of facial pain. Some of these things may be caused by irritation of nerves that travel from your brain to your face. Other causes may be due to orthopedic problems or nasal conditions.

Causes of your symptoms may include:

  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
  • Sinus infection
  • Irritation of your trigeminal nerve, called trigeminal neuralgia
  • Irritation of your facial nerve, the 7th cranial nerve

Since there are so many different causes of pain in your face, working with a specialist is recommended so you get the best treatment for your problem.

Trigeminal neuralgia or facial nerve problems are a frequent cause of facial pain or hemifacial spasm. Causes of trigeminal neuralgia may include stroke or multiple sclerosis. Most often, trigeminal neuralgia is caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve, the 5th cranial nerve.

The nerve can be irritated by its neighboring artery, and this may wear away at the protective sheath around the nerve, causing sharp, shooting pains in one side of your face.

If you are dealing with pain from trigeminal neuralgia, there are many different treatments available that can help you recover. Finding the right treatment for you should be one of your main goals when managing your pain.

Medication for Facial Pain

Medication for facial pain is typically the first line of treatment if you have trigeminal neuralgia or hemifacial spasm. Different medications are typically used at varying dosages. Your doctor should work with you to find the correct medication and dosage for your condition.

Medication typically used for facial symptoms may include:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antispasmodics
  • Botox injections

Sometimes the medication is all you need to manage your symptoms; other times the medication loses its effect over time, and you need to change medications or alter the dosage. If medication fails to give you adequate relief of your pain, you may need to find a New Jersey neurosurgeon who treats facial conditions to consider surgery.

There are three major types of surgery for facial pain: microvascular decompression, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery and stimulator placement.

Microvascular Decompression

Microvascular decompression is considered the gold standard for trigeminal neuralgia and facial pain relief. The procedure is a type of brain surgery, so there is some risk involved, but most patients enjoy a rapid abatement of their trigeminal neuralgia symptoms after microvascular decompression.

During microvascular decompression, your neurosurgeon makes a small incision behind your ear, and a quarter-sized portion of your skull is removed. Your surgeon then visualizes your trigeminal nerve and a small Teflon pad is placed between the nerve and the artery next to it. This pad helps to relieve pressure on your trigeminal nerve, thus relieving your pain.

After microvascular decompression, you can expect to stay in the hospital for one to three days. You can also expect a rapid reduction in your pain. Of course, any brain surgery carries with it some risk, so work closely with your neurosurgeon to understand the benefits and risks associated with microvascular decompression to make an informed decision about your treatment.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

During Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, your neurosurgeon uses focused beams of radiation to slightly damage the fibers of your trigeminal nerve. This damage can be effective in relieving your facial pain. Pain relief usually occurs slowly over time as the radiation takes effect.

If you start experiencing pain after Gamma Knife Radiosurgery, the procedure can be repeated. Working closely with your neurosurgeon can help you make the best decision about having Gamma Knife Radiosurgery or another procedure to treat your symptoms.

Stimulator Placement

Many people with trigeminal neuralgia benefit from using electrical stimulation to modulate their pain. Your neurosurgeon can thread a tiny lead wire into an area near your trigeminal nerve and use electricity to alter the signals that are sent by your nerve to your brain.

Research indicates that most patients with trigeminal neuralgia get approximately a 50 percent reduction in pain with stimulator placement. That still means that you may experience some pain, but the sharp, burning sensations may be eliminated with stimulator placement.

Facial Pain: First Steps to Treatment

When you first develop symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, visit your doctor to get a diagnosis and to learn the cause of your pain. Your doctor may perform special tests, like an MRI or CT scan, to rule out any sinister lesion like a tumor or a stroke.

If your symptoms are caused by irritation of your trigeminal nerve, you may benefit from starting on a course of medication to alleviate your symptoms. For severe cases, you may need to consider working with an NJ neurosurgeon to consider surgical alternatives for treatment.

When looking for a neurosurgeon, you should find one that treats you with respect and compassion. Your surgeon should listen to your concerns and should answer any questions you may have about your surgery. He or she should also take the time to explain the best type of surgery for your pain and offer you alternatives to treatment.

Most importantly, you should feel like your neurosurgeon is a trusted ally in your care who is working with you to completely manage your trigeminal neuralgia symptoms.

Living with facial pain can create a significant disability in your life, leading to lost time at work or missed time with loved ones. If you are dealing with trigeminal neuralgia, finding an NJ neurosurgeon who treats facial pain can offer you lasting relief and get you on the path to wellness.
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