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Trigeminal Neuralgia

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Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment and Surgery in Staten Island, NY

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that causes intense facial pain, like an electric shock to one side of the face. Also referred to as tic douloureux, this condition affects the trigeminal nerve, which is the nerve responsible for providing sensation to the face. The pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia can be so intense that it can disrupt everyday activities.

People living with intense, chronic facial pain due to trigeminal neuralgia can find relief with the treatments offered at Richmond University Medical Center. Serving patients in the Staten Island, NY area, the neurosurgery team uses revolutionary techniques to help alleviate pain brought on by a wide range of medical conditions, such as trigeminal neuralgia.

The Different Types of Trigeminal Neuralgia

The trigeminal nerve is the fifth of 12 cranial nerves. It is the largest of the cranial nerves and is divided into three main branches. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sending pain, touch, and temperature sensations from the face to the brain. When the nerve is disrupted or damaged, it causes patients to experience severe, sporadic pain in all areas where the nerve branches reach. In the case of trigeminal neuralgia, these parts are the lips, eyes, scalp, nose, upper jaw, lower jaw, and forehead.

There are two types of trigeminal neuralgia: TN1 and TN2. Both involve extreme facial pain but differ slightly. TN1 and TN2 can both be triggered by activities involving touching or applying pressure to the face, like eating, putting on makeup, brushing teeth, or shaving.

Typical Trigeminal Neuralgia (Type 1)

Categorized as episodes that are intense, sharp, and sporadic, patients with TN1 will likely experience painful sensations that can last anywhere from a few seconds to two minutes. Episodes are typically broken up but continue for up to several hours.

Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia (Type 2)

Less painful and intense than type 1, TN2 is more widespread, delivering constant pain with no breaks. Patients often feel sensations of stabbing or burning, in addition to persistent aches and pains.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia can be the result of several causes and other medical conditions. Trigeminal neuralgia is most commonly brought on by a blood vessel, such as an artery or vein, applying pressure on the nerve. Patients with multiple sclerosis or a similar disorder that damages the myelin sheath protecting certain nerves may develop trigeminal neuralgia. Trigeminal neuralgia can also occur when a tumor, lesion, or other abnormality is present and is compressing the trigeminal nerve.

In other cases, trigeminal neuralgia can be the result of trigeminal nerve damage caused by oral or sinus surgery, a stroke, or facial trauma. Other times, cases of trigeminal neuralgia are idiopathic, meaning no specific cause is found.

What Treatments Are Available?

Patients experience relief from trigeminal neuralgia through multiple treatment options. Treatment plans can include one or several approaches, depending on the patient’s condition. Common methods for treating trigeminal neuralgia include:


To help patients relieve their symptoms, healthcare professionals may prescribe a variety of medications. Typically, medications are initially prescribed at low doses and increased gradually based on how the body responds to the drugs. The types of medication that may be prescribed to a patient with trigeminal neuralgia can include:

  • Anticonvulsant drugs
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Muscle relaxants


If medications have proven ineffective and the patient’s condition is worsening, they may be a good candidate for surgical treatment. The surgical approach to treating trigeminal neuralgia is divided into two categories: open cranial surgery and lesioning procedures.

Open Cranial Surgery

Open cranial surgery is performed after healthcare professionals confirm a blood vessel is compressing the trigeminal nerve. This scenario can be seen with special imaging of the brain, such as an MRI. The goal of this procedure is to eliminate the underlying problem causing trigeminal neuralgia.

Lesioning Procedures

Lesioning procedures involve purposely destroying the part of the nerve that causes pain. This approach blocks the pain signal to the brain, helping relieve sensations of sharp discomfort.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment at Richmond University Medical Center

Patients experiencing facial pain, particularly prolonged or recurring pain, due to trigeminal neuralgia, can turn to the dedicated team at Richmond University Medical Center. The team of physicians offers advanced treatment options to patients in the Staten Island, NY, area experiencing symptoms related to trigeminal neuralgia. Treatment plans can include medications or trigeminal neuralgia surgery, depending on a patient’s condition, health, and preferences.

To learn more about trigeminal neuralgia and the treatment options available at Richmond University Medical Center, contact us today.