Just how long does trigeminal neuralgia last? The short answer: it can last for years and even become a lifelong condition. As such, the overwhelming pain and emotional damage it can cause can be detrimental to your overall well-being. It is estimated that close to 140,000 people in the United States alone suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, making it a prominent condition that is finally starting to receive the attention for relief and treatment that sufferers need.
Depending on the type of trigeminal neuralgia you experience, the episodes can be brief and intense, or more prolonged and less sharp. It can be a daily occurrence, or happen intermittently. Regardless, these episodes will more commonly occur during the day when you’re participating in normal activities. It’s less common to experience nighttime trigeminal neuralgia symptoms. This makes it all the more difficult to cope with the pain and function on a day-to-day basis.
If you’ve thought longingly of the days when you didn’t experience the pain caused by your trigeminal neuralgia, it’s time you sought more permanent relief. Whether you’ve tried drug therapy or alternative means of controlling your trigeminal neuralgia pain, such as injections, you may not be experiencing the most thorough results. This is why surgical intervention may be a great option for you.
How Can Surgery Help You?
If you’ve tried other methods of pain control with less-than-satisfactory results, it may be time for you to consider surgical intervention. Surgery can offer you more permanent relief over the long-term. You won’t have to depend on drugs (some of which are addictive) or with any of their unpleasant side effects. Nor will you have to seek injections that only last a few months.
There are several surgical procedures available to you, from radiosurgery to electrostimulation. Depending on the severity and nature of your trigeminal neuralgia, your facial pain specialist and surgeons can help guide you in the right direction when choosing the most effective procedure for your unique set of circumstances. No longer will you have the burning question in the forefront all the time: how long does trigeminal neuralgia last?
Embarking on the Journey
The first step in seeking surgical correction for your trigeminal neuralgia is to consult with a seasoned facial pain specialist. This individual will work closely with you to fully determine the extent of your trigeminal neuralgia and formulate a plan that will allow you to work toward a pain-free life, including whether or not surgery is a good option for you.
There are four main types of surgical intervention that can be performed to alleviate your trigeminal neuralgia pain. Below is a brief description of each procedure and the means with which it is performed.
This procedure is perhaps the most effective for those who have tried drugs and other forms of therapy with unsatisfactory results. In many cases, pain is caused by a blood vessel, artery or vein lying in close proximity or against the trigeminal nerve. To remedy this problem, a moderately invasive procedure is performed by placing a Teflon sponge between the nerve and vessel, cushioning the impact created by the blood flow through the vessel. Most people report a total resolution of pain and discomfort with this procedure. It is also advantageous in that it does not deaden the nerve impulses, allowing completely normal function of the nerve.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Using around 200 finely focused miniature rays, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is used to neutralize the trigeminal nerve, thus interrupting the pain signals it sends to the brain. This is a non-invasive procedure that can be performed on an outpatient basis by a neurosurgeon and team of radiology specialists. Because of its fine-tuned focus, it is excellent for pinpointing and treating very small areas, causing virtually no damage to the surrounding tissues and structures.
A minimally invasive procedure, percutaneous rhizotomy is an outpatient procedure typically performed by a neurosurgeon. The surgeon will insert an electrode introducer into the area, passing an electrode through the nerve. Part of the trigeminal nerve is deadened, ceasing the pain signals to the brain. Recovery time is not extended and relief is often seen fairly quickly.
Pain Stimulator Placement
This is also a minimally invasive procedure that uses implanted electrodes attached to an implanted battery pack. These electrodes intercept the nerve impulses that cause pain. Many people who have tried the other options to no avail find this to give them marked relief from facial and cranial pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia.
Take the Next Step
There is no reason you should have to live with the debilitating pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia. Surgery is a viable option if you’ve tried other methods of relief, want to avoid the unpleasant side effects of drug therapy or are seeking a more permanent option.
If you’re interested in learning more about our unique approach to you and your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will work closely with you to determine what procedure(s) might be most beneficial for your set of circumstances and the extent of your condition and help resolve the ever-present worry of how long does trigeminal neuralgia last.