“When an attack actually happens, it feels like you’ve been placed into an electric chair for about five minutes. It feels like your face is being scraped off, acid being thrown on it, and it’s a burning, searing sensation that will travel on my whole right side,”
These are the words of Tim Haynes – who recently talked to Daily-Journal.com about his struggles with the severe facial pain disease Trigeminal Neuralgia.
“You can’t see it. You can’t tell it’s there until you live with it,” Haynes said. “It’s a life-changing, debilitating disease, and you wouldn’t want your worst of the worst enemies to have it. … And I don’t have it nearly as bad as a lot of people that have it.”
Amy Cook is another young sufferer of the disease. At just 21 she is also plagued by the sharp stabbing pains. She talked to the Daily Mail saying
“It has almost taken over my life in a sense because when it’s really bad I cannot function.”
From Johannesburg in South Africa, Amy said
“I have decided to raise awareness of it. It made me happy to know that I was not alone in this rare condition.”
What is Trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a disease whereby the trigeminal nerve that supplies the sensation to the face comes into contact with blood vessels in the brain. When this happens, the nerve is stimulated and it shoots signals off to the brain that tell the central nervous system there is severe injury happening to the face. As such patients feel a shooting electric intense pain for just a few seconds. This happens periodically as the blood vessel touches up against the nerve.
How can trigeminal Neuralgia be treated
Is there any hope for Amy, Tim and the others afflicted with this rare disease? In fact, there is. Treatments are currently available and recent reports suggest new drugs are on the horizon. However, people need specialist help to get the treatment they desperately need. Treatments can include:
● Avoiding triggers. This seems simple but specialists can often provide invaluable tips and tricks to avoid the shooting pains. Knowing what triggers the pain, like a scarf touching your chin or the blowing of the wind can help patients avoid these situations
● Epilepsy drugs are the major treatment options. Anticonvulsants, as they are often called, were not originally intended to treat pain but they calm activity in the nerves and as such work well in conditions like trigeminal neuralgia. The most commonly used is Carbamazepine – which is effective in lots of patients. Others, however, are available such as pregabalin and baclofen.
If you or somebody you know are suffering from sharpshooting facial pains then consider getting in contact with a specialist clinic to help relieve their condition. Often family doctors are ill-equipped to deal with this rare and debilitating disorder and specialist help can often make all the difference.