Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic condition which affects the 5th cranial nerve, also known as the trigeminal nerve. The 5th cranial nerve is the main carrier of all sensations that you feel on your face. The trigeminal nerve carries signals from your face to the brain, and when this nerve malfunctions, it can cause hypersensitivity. With hypersensitivity, even a slight movement like putting cream on your face can cause high stimulation of the nerve, making it send pain signals to your brain. The incidence of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is 4.3 per 100,000 persons per year, with a slightly higher incidence for women (5.9/100,000) compared with men (3.4/100).
Trigeminal Neuralgia Onset and Symptoms
Initially when TN starts, the person experiences mild attacks, which last for a short period of time. However as trigeminal neuralgia progresses, the attacks can be longer and more frequent, while simultaneously increasing in pain intensity as well.
Trigeminal neuralgia usually occurs in people over the age of 50; however, it can occur in younger people and teenagers as well. Women are more susceptible to this condition than men, though the reason for that is not entirely clear. Common symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include:
How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Treated?
The good news is that trigeminal neuralgia can be treated in a number of ways. Unlike other nerve pains, which are notorious for not going away, trigeminal neuralgia responds well to treatment. Doctors manage the condition with the help of medications. In some cases injections or surgery may be suggested as well. Medicines used in relieving TN pain may be oral or topical. In some cases, the doctor will recommend a combination of both.
When to Use Topical Medications?
Some people report having long bouts of pain with TN, which render them incapable of functioning normally in their daily life. If you are experiencing such a situation, commonly prescribed pain-relieving medications are anticonvulsants and anti-depressants. However, these medicines can take quite a long time before taking effect. For instant relief, doctors can prescribe topical medications, which can provide you with quicker action.
Topical medications for pain relief include the use of anesthetics and analgesics. Topical agents are extremely beneficial because they are applied directly onto to the affected area. When applied, the medicine gets absorbed directly into the affected area and brings quicker pain relief. Compared to oral alternatives, topical medications work faster, giving the patient instant ease of discomfort.
Ease of Use
Topical agents are easy to use and are mostly available as over-the-counter drugs. One can purchase them in the form of gels, roll-ons, sprays, creams, lotions, or patches. No-mess roll-ons are also available which make the application less messy and hassle free. However, the best topical agents are compounded, which means they are individualized and prescribed by the doctor.
Some topical medications may cause an initial burning sensation, which wanes over time and brings pain-relief. Others may cause a simultaneous hot and cold sensation to distract your mind from the pain and bring relief. Topical NSAIDs, on the other hand, reduce inflammation and direct the central nervous system to function normally.