Key Takeaways

1

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition. It’s characterized by pain in response to “normal” daily activities, like laughing and speaking. The pain can be debilitating.

2

One treatment option is a type of surgery called microvascular decompression. During the procedure, your neurosurgeon can pad or reposition the offending blood vessel to eliminate the cause of your condition.

3

Though it sounds like it, Gamma Knife radiosurgery isn’t surgery at all. Rather, it’s an advanced form of radiation therapy that can target an area as precise as 0.15 mm. That means fewer of the unpleasant side effects commonly associated with radiation therapy. 

4

Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is minimally invasive, the recovery period is very brief and mild. You may feel tired for the first day or two and you may have mild nausea or a headache.

It’s important to understand your trigeminal neuralgia and the treatment options available.

Whether you already have a procedure scheduled or are still exploring your treatment options, learning as much as you can about your trigeminal neuralgia is a great idea. Simply understanding the terminology can help you in your conversations with your personal doctor, allowing you to make more informed decisions.

The following information will help you understand the trigeminal neuralgia treatment options available in the tri-state area. While your doctor will make recommendations based on your individual condition, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the different options. In particular, knowing what to expect during the recovery period can help you prepare mentally and physically and may influence your treatment choices.

How is Trigeminal Neuralgia Treated?

Generally speaking, there are three treatment options available for trigeminal neuralgia. All are available to patients in northern NJ. Your doctor will be able to discuss which options are feasible for your individual condition.

Medication

Medication is often the first-line treatment option for trigeminal neuralgia. Interestingly, it’s not pain medications that are effective. Instead, anti-seizure medications, tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxers are most commonly prescribed. Unfortunately, there are two downsides. First, the medications do nothing about the cause of your condition. Second, the medications do not work for everyone and often lose effectiveness over time.

Surgery

Recall that the most common cause of trigeminal neuralgia is a blood vessel putting pressure on the trigeminal nerve. One treatment option is a type of surgery called microvascular decompression. During the procedure, your neurosurgeon can pad or reposition the offending blood vessel to eliminate the cause of your condition.

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Though it sounds like it, Gamma Knife radiosurgery isn’t surgery at all. Rather, it’s an advanced form of radiation therapy that can target an area as precise as 0.15 mm. That means fewer of the unpleasant side effects commonly associated with radiation therapy. There are no incisions, no scalpels and no hospital stay. This makes it an excellent treatment option for many NJ patients who cannot undergo surgery or simply prefer a minimally invasive approach.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Surgery Recovery

Recovery after any surgery is going to be a very personal process. However, having a general understanding of what many patients experience can be helpful. Trigeminal neuralgia surgery takes place in a hospital while you are asleep and comfortable. After the procedure, you will recover in an intensive-care unit, where your doctor will monitor your vital signs. Once you have stabilized, you will be transferred to your recovery room.

Most patients spend 2 days in the hospital during trigeminal neuralgia surgery recovery. Again, recovery will depend on your individual condition and could be longer. Once discharged from the hospital, you will need to spend around a week recovering at home. You will be on activity restrictions during this time and may need help around the house and with errands.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Recovery

Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is minimally invasive, the recovery period is very brief and mild. You may feel tired for the first day or two and you may have mild nausea or a headache. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help manage these symptoms. Most patients are back to work and all normal activities within 1-2 days.

Your Personal Treatment Path

It’s important to understand that your personal doctor knows your individual condition better than anyone else. He or she will work with you to develop a treatment plan that suits your specific needs. Your doctor can also address what to expect during your particular recovery process. If you have further questions about your condition or treatment options, be sure to bring them up at your next appointment.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be an excellent treatment option for many people with trigeminal neuralgia. If your doctor has not discussed it with you yet and it is something you are interested in, mention it to your doctor during your next visit. Many people in the tri-state area have found trigeminal neuralgia relief after Gamma Knife radiosurgery, with none of the risks related to surgery. It may be a great choice for you, as well.

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Before reviewing trigeminal neuralgia treatment options, it can be helpful to discuss the condition first. As you well know, trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition. It’s characterized by pain in response to “normal” daily activities, like laughing and speaking. The pain can be debilitating, leading to the unfortunate nickname of the “suicide disease.”

Thankfully, clinicians and researchers have worked together to learn the most common underlying cause of trigeminal neuralgia and how to treat it. More often than not, the culprit is a small blood vessel in the brain impinging on the trigeminal nerve. This is the nerve that transmits sensory information from the face. The overstimulated nerve translates normal touch signals into abnormal pain signals.

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