Can Gamma Knife Bring Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain Relief?

As you are learning more about your trigeminal neuralgia treatment options in the tri-state area, you may have come across a procedure called Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Many patients have experienced trigeminal neuralgia pain relief following Gamma Knife radiosurgery, and many specialists favor it as an excellent treatment option. Because you may be unfamiliar with Gamma Knife radiosurgery, the following information will explain the technology and how it can be used to treat trigeminal neuralgia using a minimally invasive approach, without the need for surgery.

About Trigeminal Neuralgia

Knowing a little about the underlying cause of trigeminal neuralgia can help you better understand exactly how Gamma Knife radiosurgery can provide trigeminal neuralgia pain relief. You have a paired set of trigeminal nerves, one extending to each side of your face. The trigeminal nerve sends signals to the brain regarding sensation, including pain. However, when you have trigeminal neuralgia, you experience excruciating pain in response to normal activities, like speaking and eating. These pain episodes are so intense that trigeminal neuralgia is often referred to as the “suicide disease”.

For patients with trigeminal neuralgia, something is causing the trigeminal nerve to fire off pain signals to the brain when it should not. Doctors now understand that the most common cause is a blood vessel from the brain impinging on the nerve, though in rare cases, there may be another cause, such as MS or a tumor. One way to provide trigeminal neuralgia pain relief is to remove the source of irritation to the trigeminal nerve, stopping the inappropriate signaling altogether.

Six months after her Gamma Knife treatment, Kathleen is amazed that she’s free of pain and no longer takes any medication for the condition that once plagued her. “Every day I wake up, say my prayers and think, ‘It’s another good day,’” she says. “My first impression during that initial visit was that I was in the hands of doctors and nurses who really know what they’re doing,” she says. “I felt so relieved and safe.”

About Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

In spite of how it sounds, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is not a surgery at all and does not even require a hospital stay. Rather, it is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses 192 low-energy beams at once to target a highly focused area for treatment. This means that your doctor is able to treat an area with a guaranteed accuracy of 0.15 mm – the width of just two human hairs – reducing the impact on healthy surrounding tissues.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting, which means you show up for your appointment and leave once it is over. The treatment itself only takes about 15-60 minutes, and you will be allowed to return home within an hour or two of completion. Trigeminal Neuralgia patients will only require a single treatment session.

Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is so precise and spares healthy structures, patients experience fewer side effects than with traditional radiation therapy. Additionally, because it is a minimally invasive procedure, most patients are able to return to normal activities and work within just a day or two. It can be an excellent treatment option for patients in Northern NJ with many conditions of the brain, head, and neck.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Now that you have a better understanding of the Gamma Knife radiosurgery technology and the cause of your condition, it will be easier to see how Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to provide trigeminal neuralgia pain relief. Following a diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia, the first course of treatment is typically a prescription medication, such as muscle relaxers (Baclofen), antidepressants (Amitriptyline) or anti-seizure drugs (Tegretol). However, if these medications do not prevent painful attacks or lose their effectiveness, the next step is often a procedure, such as microvascular decompression or Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Pain Relief and You

You may not know this, but patients with trigeminal neuralgia used to have few treatment options available. The great news is doctors now understand what can cause the pain you are experiencing and have ways to treat it at the source. Whether you have only been recently diagnosed or already have a procedure scheduled in NJ, learning as much as you can about your condition and treatment options can help you feel more comfortable with the entire process.

Because every patient is different, your doctor will recommend a treatment approach based on your individual needs and personal health factors. Most patients will begin treatment using prescription medications. However, if you have already been down that road or find it does not work for you in the future, know that there are now procedures that can help provide trigeminal neuralgia pain relief, often for good.

If you find that you still have questions regarding your condition and Gamma Knife radiosurgery as a treatment option, be sure to bring them up with your doctor at your next appointment. He or she will be happy to answer your questions to ensure you have confidence in your treatment plan, setting your mind at ease along the way.

Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.N.S
Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.N.S
Dr. Anthony D’Ambrosio is a board-certified neurosurgeon that specializes in Neurosurgery, Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery (GKRS) and more. He is the Director of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the Gamma Knife Program at The Valley Hospital. Dr. D’Ambrosio is an expert in treating patients with trigeminal neuralgia, benign or malignant brain tumors, as well as many other neurological conditions.

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