Key Takeaways

1

Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by intense facial pain during normal activities because of the trigeminal nerve sending signals inappropriately, due to something such as a blood vessel pressing on the nerve.

2

Usually, the first treatment response to trigeminal neuralgia is medication. If medication is unresponsive, other treatment options include microvascular decompression or Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

3

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive radiation treatment that takes place in an outpatient setting. There is no incision, no surgery, and no hospital stay.

4

The Valley Hospital has several doctors experienced in treating facial pain and are specialized in the management of trigeminal neuralgia.

Trigeminal neuralgia patients used to have limited choices when it came to managing their pain. However, thanks to the dedication of hardworking doctors and researchers, the medical community has come to understand the cause of most cases of trigeminal neuralgia. This, in turn, allows them to develop treatment options that can end your facial pain.

Wherever you are in the diagnosis and treatment process, learning as much as you can about your condition will help you feel confident along the way. To assist you in the process, the following will give you a brief overview of what causes trigeminal neuralgia, treatment options available and a highlight of some of the doctors working to help patients like you in northern NJ.

What Causes Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by intense facial pain brought on by normal activities involving the face, such as light touch and eating. The intense bouts of pain are brought on because the nerve responsible for sensory innervation of the face (the trigeminal nerve) is sending signals inappropriately. Doctors have learned that the primary reason for this hyperactivity is something is pressing on the trigeminal nerve, often a blood vessel and rarely another structure, such as a tumor.

Related Outcome

What Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatments are Available in NJ?

For anyone diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, the first line of treatment is typically prescription medication to stop your painful attacks. Common prescriptions include anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, and muscle relaxers. However, many patients will require direct treatment to provide long-term relief.

Two treatment options available to patients in the tri-state are microvascular decompression (MVD) and Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Both are effective at treating your trigeminal neuralgia and preventing pain by removing the impingement on the trigeminal nerve. However, the two treatments are very different, and your doctor will recommend what is most appropriate for you based on your specific condition and personal health factors.

MVD is a surgical procedure that takes place within a hospital, requiring a short hospital stay and a recovery period at home of about a week. During your MVD procedure, the surgeon will access the area of impingement and place a piece of Teflon between the blood vessel and nerve, which will stop the irritation and prevent future bouts of pain. MVD may be recommended in younger patients who are good surgical candidates.

By contrast, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive radiation treatment that takes place in an outpatient setting. There is no incision, no surgery, and no hospital stay. Using multiple highly focused beams of radiation, your doctor is able to target just the impinging structure without damaging healthy surrounding tissues, removing the cause of your trigeminal neuralgia. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an excellent treatment option for patients who are not good surgical candidates or who prefer a minimally invasive treatment approach.

Who Are the Trigeminal Neuralgia Doctors in NJ?

Next, meet some of the trigeminal neuralgia doctors in northern NJ who are working hard to end facial pain for patients. Each of the following doctors has dedicated themselves to treating patients with conditions of the brain, head, and neck and is specialized in the management of trigeminal neuralgia.

Anthony D’Ambrosio, MD, FAANS

Dr. D’Ambrosio is the Director of Neurosurgery at The Valley Hospital and is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery. He specializes in both MVD and Gamma Knife radiosurgery in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, as well as other neurological conditions. Dr. D’Ambrosio is driven by advancing patient care, stating:

“I was partially responsible for creating the Valley Gamma Knife Program as it didn’t exist when I started at Valley…One of the reasons I love working at Valley is the fact that the administration listens to ideas and cares about their patients so much that they invest in the most revolutionary technology whenever appropriate.”

Chad DeYoung, MD

As a radiation oncologist, Dr. DeYoung specializes in treating conditions of the brain, head, and neck using Gamma Knife radiosurgery, including trigeminal neuralgia. Dr. DeYoung personally feels driven by the synergy between patient care and technology. His passion is clear as he says:

“Valley Hospital is one of those incredibly rare hospital systems that have exceptional care and technology, as well as a personal touch. The state-of-the-art machines and techniques used at Valley are making real differences to real patients now. This means that I get to practice medicine utilizing world-class technology in an environment where my patients get caring, personalized attention to ensure that they can live their most fulfilling lives.”

Michael Wesson, MD

Dr. Wesson also specializes in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia using Gamma Knife radiosurgery and feels driven by patient progress. In speaking about his work, he states:

“I am energized by the opportunity to develop close relationships with each and every person I treat both during their time with us as well as their ongoing follow-up visits. The recent advancements in technology are amazing and allow for fewer treatment sessions with even fewer side effects. ”

Thomas Kole, MD, PhD

As another radiation oncologist, Dr. Kole finds himself driven by supporting his community. He also specializes in the use of Gamma Knife radiosurgery to manage trigeminal neuralgia and says:

“I am excited by the progression of radiation technology to allow for more precise treatment delivery which has made shorter overall treatment courses possible along with improved quality of life…I take pride that every day I have the opportunity to provide hope to my patients and possibly make someone smile that otherwise might not have.”

Treatment for Your Trigeminal Neuralgia

As you can see, there are caring, experienced doctors available in the tri-state area who are experienced in treating trigeminal neuralgia using the most advanced technology available. As a trigeminal neuralgia patient, you no longer have to settle for avoiding certain activities and hoping the pain doesn’t return. There are trigeminal neuralgia doctors dedicated to treating people just like you, greatly reducing or ending your facial pain once and for all.

“I was completely free of pain less than three months after the procedure.” - Lois Santarsiero

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