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How Winter’s Chill Can Make Facial Pain Worse

Winter is back – and if you have trigeminal neuralgia, your facial pain may have returned or flared up, too. Cold air or wind can be one of the causes of trigeminal neuralgia’s excruciating facial sensations – making winter an especially painful season for many patients.

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that causes chronic pain in areas served by the trigeminal nerve, such as the eye, cheek or jaw. Trigeminal neuralgia is sometimes referred to as the “suicide disease” because of the severity of the pain and the years that individuals often suffer without knowing the cause. 

There are effective treatment methods to help treat trigeminal neuralgia including medication and stereotactic radiosurgery, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery. 

Why Does My Facial Pain Get Worse in the Winter?

The difficulty of living with trigeminal neuralgia is that it tends to be regular, daily things or activities that are what causes trigeminal neuralgia to flare up. Though what triggers acute attacks will vary from patient to patient, some common activities that cause trigeminal neuralgia to ramp up include:

  • Hot, cold, spicy, or sour foods and beverages
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Gentle touch, including a breeze or face washing
  • Shaving
  • Blowing your nose
  • Putting on makeup or facial lotion
  • Talking and making facial expressions, such as smiling

 

Cold weather is often a cause of severe facial pain because it is connected to the nervous system. Severe temperatures are often felt by those with nerve pain due to how the nervous system reacts to temperature changes. 

To help reduce trigeminal neuralgia severity in the winter months, make sure you stay warm – blankets, hats, scarfs, gloves and extra layers are helpful. Be sure your home is well insulated and keep your home heated adequately. Talk to your doctor to see if there’s anything additional they can do to help, such as increase medication or provide a note to avoid traveling out in the cold to places such as school or work. 

This is why many doctors will recommend treatment, as avoiding temperature changes can be both difficult and disruptive. 

What is Gamma Knife Radiosurgery?

If you’ve been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia and find yourself suffering through another uncomfortable winter – and trigeminal neuralgia medication is doing little to help the pain – it may be time for you to consider Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat your trigeminal neuralgia.

Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery treats trigeminal neuralgia by sending 200 individual beams of high-dose radiation to the target area, or trigeminal nerve. The radiation damages the nerve, preventing pain signals from traveling to the face, all without harming the surrounding healthy tissue. Safe, non-invasive and effective, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is often completed in just one treatment session, enabling many patients to return to their everyday activities quickly, with minimal downtime. 

Where to Go From Here

Trigeminal neuralgia can be treated right in Bergen County at The Valley Gamma Knife Center, where our skilled team of nurse navigators, neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists treat facial pain and a host of other conditions. Contact our nurse navigators today to have your questions answered and find out if Gamma Knife radiosurgery can successfully treat your facial pain.

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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