Worst pain known to man
All of us experienced headache at least once in our lifetime, but those headaches are nothing compared to a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia, also known as the “Suicide Disease”. Trigeminal Neuralgia isn’t terminal, but many who suffer from the disease take their own lives due to the intolerable pain.
What is Trigeminal neuralgia (TN)?
Trigeminal neuralgia or Suicide disease is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain. It is a sudden, severe facial pain, best described as like you are being struck by a lightning bolt or like an electric shock. It occurs in sudden short attacks, usually on one side of the face, lasting from a few seconds to about two minutes. It stops just as sudden as it occurs. It’s possible for the pain to completely disappear for several months or years (period of remission) but, sadly, it will most likely come back at some point. Living with trigeminal neuralgia is difficult and it significatly impacts person’s quality of life. It can result in isolation and depression.
What is Trigeminal Nerve?
The trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve) is the largest nerve inside the skull, and it is responsible for sensation in the face and motor functions such as biting and chewing.
Each trigeminal nerve has three major branches: the ophthalmic nerve, the maxillary nerve, and the mandibular nerve.
The ophthalmic and maxillary nerves are purely sensory, and the mandibular nerve has sensory and motor functions.
Causes and Treatment
Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by the pressure on the trigeminal nerve close to where it enters the brain stem (the lowest part of the brain), which is usually caused by a nearby blood vessel pressing on part of the nerve inside the skull. Rarely, trigeminal neuralgia can occur as a result of damage to the trigeminal nerve caused by multiple sclerosis, cyst or a tumour.
A combination of medications, injections, or surgeries can help to manage the pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia. The first choice is always medication (very often the same used for treating epilepsy) and a surgery (Microvascular decompression) should be considered a last resort because it can make the pain worse or cause additional medical problems.
It is also known that cannabis extract taken orally can ease the pain (THC and CBD from cannabis together treat the pain) with no side effects. There are also many TN patients who have reported good results from using B-12 vitamin.
Trigeminal neuraligia is a long-term condition and occurs most frequently in middle and later life. It affects women more frequently than men.
October 7th is Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day.