Horrible facial pain

May 25, 2009 10:45:29 AM PDT
It's described as the worst facial pain ever known. Felt while brushing your teeth or putting on makeup.So what causes it?

Donna Mazzarelli suffers with sharp in her face that drove her from doctor to doctor.

"I had gone to a specialist for my ear because I thought it was my ear, but then last year I went to a dentist and had some dental work done," said Mazzarelli.

Without relieving the sharp pain along the right side of her face. She continued to search for the source. Donna adds, "I had gone online and I googled facial pain and I came up with this condition."

And she was right. She had trigeminal neuralgia, pain coming from the nerve bringing sensation from the face to the brain. Pain happens from pressure on the nerve.

"The most common cause is a small blood vessel pinching into the nerve inside the head," says Neurosurgeon Dr. Michael Brisman.

The blood vessel pinches it inside the head, close to where the nerve leaves the spinal cord.

The result can be pain while shaving, while eating or drinking or even with putting on makeup or brushing your teeth.

Treatment begins with anti seizure drugs, which actually work better than painkillers. If those don't work or have side effects, there are other approaches.

Under anesthesia, doctors can use radiation to injure the nerve slightly and stop the pain. Some numbness can result. Or, as with Donna, there's a surgery that can cure the problem.

Doctor Brizman went behind Donna's ear and removed a piece of bone from the skull. He found the blood vessel that was pinching her nerve, and simply moved it aside.

It worked for Donna. "I can smile, I can eat but it's a different quality of life. I'm glad I did it, I have no regrets whatsoever," she said.

About 90 percent effective for this most common type of TN, can be a symptom of MS, and they tend to get it younger, generally in people over 50 and more often in women.

Web Produced By: Scott Curkin


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