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Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN), also called tic douloureux, is a condition that is characterized by intermittent, shooting pain in the face. Trigeminal Neuralgia affects the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. The trigeminal nerve sends impulses of touch, pain, pressure, and temperature to the brain from the face, jaw, gums, forehead, and around the eyes.

The most frequent cause of Trigeminal Neuralgia is a blood vessel pressing on the nerve near the brainstem. Over time, changes in the blood vessels of the brain can result in blood vessels rubbing against the trigeminal nerve root. The constant rubbing with each heartbeat wears away the insulating membrane of the nerve, resulting in nerve irritation.

Trigeminal Neuralgia causes a sudden, severe, electric shock-like, or stabbing pain that lasts several seconds. The pain can be felt on the face and around the lips, eyes, nose, scalp, and forehead. Symptoms can be brought on when a person is brushing the teeth, putting on makeup, touching the face, swallowing, or even feeling a slight breeze.

The pain of Trigeminal neuralgia is often falsely attributed to a pathology of dental origin. “Rarely do patients come to the surgeon without having had removed many, and not infrequently all, teeth on the affected side.” Extractions do not help. The pain is originating in the Trigeminal nerve itself, often in its roots, not in an individual nerve of a tooth. Because of this difficulty, many patients may go untreated for long periods of time before a correct diagnosis is made.

How Our Chiropractors Can Help

Pierce Chiropractic Center uses a revolutionary healthcare procedure that focuses on the Upper Cervical Spine. This procedure identifies subtle misalignments of the top vertebrae in the neck and corrects them using a light-force instrument adjustment. As the Trigeminal nerve exits the brainstem and the skull, it passes alongside the first bone in the neck (called the Atlas) on its way to the face.

Because of its location, the Trigeminal nerve may lose its proper function when there is a misalignment of the Upper Cervical spine. A 2003 study in the journal Current Pain and Headache Reports discussed the relationships between the trigeminal nerve complex and the Upper Cervical spine, finding that dysfunction in the nerve complex itself can be contributed to compression within the upper cervical area of the spine. That said, relief of the nerves themselves through proper spinal alignment has shown a high level of success in helping to alleviate the Trigeminal Neuralgia condition.

From One of Our Patients

After experiencing facial pressure, tongue numbness and shooting pains on the left side of my face for almost 9 months I started seeing Dr. Randy. I’m only a few months in and already experiencing relief from the symptoms. I love his individualized approach to care!


      - Jen B