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Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment in Miami
Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with TN, there is help.
It is our aim at Miami Neuroscience Center at Larkin to treat this condition cost-effectively while providing high-quality care and optimal outcomes. Explore all of our treatment options and meet the top trigeminal neuralgia specialists in Miami, call us today to learn more about managing your pain.
How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Diagnosed?
After discussing your medical history, your doctor will ask you several questions about the type of pain you are experiencing, such as the location, duration, and triggers. Typically, your doctor will conduct several tests to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia. These include:
- Neurological examination: By examining different parts of your face, your doctor can pinpoint the painful areas. This will help to determine which branches of the trigeminal nerve are affected. A reflex test will also help your doctor to assess whether your symptoms are the result of a trapped nerve or different condition altogether.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A scan of your head and face can help to determine if the trigeminal neuralgia is caused by a tumor or multiple sclerosis.
Medical/Drug Therapy Anticonvulsants
The first line of choice is usually the anticonvulsant carbamazepine (Tegretol). Alternative anticonvulsants may be prescribed, these include gabapentin, phenytoin, clonazepam, topiramate, sodium valproate, and oxcarbazepine. Anticonvulsants are a form of medication usually prescribed for epilepsy. In TN, they help to control pain caused by damaged nerves.
Glycerol Injection (Rhizotomy)
This method for treating trigeminal neuralgia is used mainly for elderly patients whose immune system is weakened by other chronic diseases. It involves the injection of a small amount of glycerol (alcohol) into the trigeminal nerve to block pain signals to the brain. The injection has a numbing effect and helps to reduce pain. This procedure may result in partial numbness or tingling in the face.3
This treatment provides the longest-lasting relief from the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. It is a surgical procedure that is performed under general anesthesia. After shaving a small area behind the ear, the surgeon will remove a small part of your skull. Small pieces of Teflon are inserted between the trigeminal nerve and the nearby blood vessels. This insulates the trigeminal nerve from further direct contact and irritation. A thin metal mesh is used to cover the area where the bone was removed.
Percutaneous Balloon Compression
This is an outpatient procedure that requires general anesthetic. During this minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon will insert a hollow needle through your cheeks and the back of your mouth to reach the trigeminal nerve. A thin, flexible tube with a balloon on one end is threaded through the needle. The balloon is inflated, causing enough pressure to damage the trigeminal nerve and prevent further pain signals from being transmitted.
Radiofrequency Lesioning (Rfl)
Also known as radiofrequency rhizotomy, this minimally invasive procedure is often used to treat severe trigeminal pain in patients who also suffer from other health complications, and for whom an open surgical procedure would be too dangerous. A small electrode is inserted through the cheek and its radiofrequency is used to damage the trigeminal nerve in order to prevent pain signals from being transmitted to the brain. This procedure also causes some facial numbness. Pain will recur after five years in around half of patients treated. When this happens, the procedure may be repeated.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Of all the surgical options for trigeminal neuralgia, this is the least invasive. The gamma knife is a device that transmits controlled beams of radiation to the trigeminal nerve at the point where it enters the brain stem. The radiation damages the nerve so that it is no longer able to transmit sensations of pain to the brain. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and requires only local anesthesia. This treatment is effective in around 80 percent of trigeminal neuralgia patients.4
Alternative treatments to Trigeminal Neuralgia
Acupuncture: Studies show that acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of TN for some people. Care must be taken when inserting the acupuncture needles, to avoid coming into contact with trigger areas, as this may cause a flare-up of symptoms. It does not work for everyone so if you try it, and the first session is unsuccessful, it is unlikely to work at all.
Aromatherapy: Although aromatherapy may not work for everyone, for some it can provide relief from the pain of TN. Essential oils such as St. John’s Wort, chamomile, ginger, and lavender can all help ease neuropathic discomfort.
Meditation: Meditation can help relieve pain caused by TN. Using techniques which help you slow your breathing and relax, can help to ease or prevent stimulation of the trigeminal nerve. For the best results, don’t wait until you are in pain to practice meditation, practice it daily if only for ten minutes at a time.
To see if you are candidate for our pain management program please call us at 786.871.6856 or schedule a consultation today!