Trigeminal neuralgia is a painful, chronic condition which affects the trigeminal nerve and causes facial pain. It causes severe pain along the course of the trigeminal nerve (usually due to irritation or damage to the nerve). The pain is typically abrupt and intense. Homeopathic treatment for trigeminal neuralgia helps reduce the severity and recurrence of sudden pains. The top homeopathic remedies for trigeminal neuralgia include medicines like Spigelia, Magnesia Phosphorica, and Verbascum.
The intensity of the pain may cause a person to contort his/her face in a twisted expression. A sudden, stabbing pain associated with this disease is known as tic douloureux.
Though the condition is not life-threatening, it can hinder one’s quality of life and can lead to chronic pain syndrome which usually affects the activities of daily life and can lead to depression in some individuals.
Homeopathic Remedies for Trigeminal Neuralgia
In the conventional system of medicine, anticonvulsants and antispasmodic agents are prescribed to the patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. The results of these drugs are usually short-termand can lead to the progression of the disease. They may cause unpleasant side effects like confusion, nausea, and drowsiness.
Botox injections are administered as a last resort. In cases of severe, recurrent episodes, surgery or radiation therapy may be required.
In the homeopathic mode of treatment, the treatment begins once a complete case history is taken, including the location, sensation, time and modalities of the pain. Particular attention is paid to the factors that trigger the complaint. Homeopathic treatment for trigeminal neuralgia works by acting internally to treat the underlying cause of the problem. Caught in the early stages (with the initial symptoms), homeopathic medicines can help reverse the condition with minimal chances of recurrence.
Homeopathic medicines work by managing the acute symptoms that are most troublesome and difficult to bear. They further help manage the condition by minimizing the intensity of pain. These medications are entirely natural, safe and free from any side effects. Homeopathic medications can give long-term relief in cases of trigeminal neuralgia and can enable an individual to have a good quality of life.
1. Spigelia: For Neuralgia on the Left Side
Spigelia is derived from the plant Pinkroot. The natural order of this plant is Loganiaceae. Spigelia is an excellent medicine for left-sided trigeminal neuralgia. Facial pain located on the left side of the face that comes and goes suddenly are the primary features that indicate the need for this medicine. The eye, cheek, teeth, and temple on the left side of the face are particularly painful. The nature of pains varies from stabbing, violent, burning like hot needles or wires, jerking, tearing, to stitching type. The affected area is highly sensitive to touch. In a few cases, pains worsen from morning to sunset. The attacks of trigeminal neuralgia arising in cold, rainy weather are also strong indicators to use Spigelia.
Key indications for using Spigelia for Trigeminal Neuralgia:
- Pain on the left side of the face.
- The occurrence of sudden pain on the affected part.
- The affected area becomes highly sensitive to touch.
2. Magnesia Phosphorica: For Neuralgia on the Right Side
Magnesia Phosphorica is medicine for cases of right-sided trigeminal neuralgia. Pain usually starts from the right eye and extends to the whole right side of the face. The pain of stabbing, stitching, shooting, cutting character is present. Pain may return every two to three hours. Pains on the right side of the face may alternate with a toothache or frequently change location, rushing about like a bolt of lightning.
The pain may get worse from slightest touch, cold application, motion, a draft of air, cold washing, eating. The patient may get relief by warmth application and pressure. Facial neuralgia beginning on opening the mouth to eat or drink is also indicative of using this medicine.
Key indications for using Magnesia Phosphorica for Trigeminal Neuralgia:
- Pain on the right side of the face.
- Pain in the affected area gets worse from touch.
- Pain on opening the mouth.
3. Verbascum: For Neuralgia with Marked Periodicity
Verbascum (also known as Mullein Oil) is a medicine for trigeminal neuralgia that is prepared from the plant Verbascum Thapsus. The medicine is derived from the plant when flowering begins. The plant belongs to the natural order Scrophulariaceae.
This medicine has a pronounced action on the third branch of the trigeminal nerve. Periodical facial pain of tearing, stitching, cramping, crushing nature appears periodically. Pain seems to occur in flashes, happening at the same hour in the morning and afternoon every day. The smallest movement triggers facial pain. Neuralgia of the left side of face occurs more commonly in cheeks and temporo-maxillary joint. A pressure in the entire left side of the head and face may be present. Pains get triggered by sneezing, talking and change of weather. Another indication is a benumbing, sticking and piercing type of pain deep in the right temple while eating, which extends to upper teeth of the same side after a few hours. Severe pressing, pinching pain on the side of the lower jaw also indicates the need for this medicine.
Key indications for using Verbascum for Trigeminal Neuralgia:
- Pain in flashes on the affected part of the face.
- Pain on face triggered by the smallest movement.
- Pain in the right temple while eating.
Other Important Remedies
4. Hecla Lava: For Neuralgia from Dental Complaints
Hecla lava is an important remedy in cases of facial neuralgia when dental problems like tooth decay cause pains. Neuralgic pains in the face after extraction of the tooth or decayed tooth are the characteristic features. There is a swelling and violent pain in the jaw, which is highly painful to touch.
5. Colocynth: For Neuralgia with Shooting, Stitching Pains
Colocynth works efficiently in cases of trigeminal neuralgia where facial pains are violent, shooting, and stitching in character. Numbness may follow neuralgic pains and get better by pressure. This medicine has a long-lasting action on large nerves, especially the trigeminal nerve. There are tearing pains in the cheeks, stitches in upper jaw which reoccur frequently. The left side of the face, temple, ear, eye and sometimes the side of the neck may get affected (commonly resulting in the condition known as tic douloureux). Facial neuralgia and toothache remain confined to one side. The pains are periodical and very severe, occurring three to four times a day.
6. Plantago: For Neuralgia with Pains in Lower Jaws
Plantago has a marked action upon the inferior maxillary branch of the trigeminal nerve. It is an excellent remedy where neuralgia is located around the lower jaw. The pain is shooting, tearing in nature. Pain starting from the lower jaw may extend to the ears. Sometimes there is drawing pain in the cheeks.
7. Hypericum: For Neuralgia after Nerve Injury
Hypericum is a highly beneficial medicine in cases where the trigeminal neuralgia starts after a nerve injury. Pains in the face are sharp, shooting, tearing or violent. There is marked tingling, burning, numbness in the affected area of the face. Facial neuralgia and toothache are present. Tension and tearing in the cheek may also be present.
Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia
The most commonly affected areas of the face in trigeminal neuralgia include the lower jaw and face, area around the nose, lips, eyes, and ears.
Area of pain: The pain can be focused on one spot (depending upon the branch that is affected) or can advance to a widespread area. Commonly affected areas include eyes, cheeks, lips, jaws, and teeth.
Type of pain: Pains can be excruciating, searing, shooting, jabbing, or feel like electric shocks. Trigeminal neuropathic pains that produce tingling and numbness (usually due to oral surgery or dentistry) may also occur. There may be a tingling or numbness in the face before the development of pain.
The side of the face affected: Usually, the pain is unilateral (one-sided), but in some cases, it can be bilateral (affecting both sides of the face).
The intensity of pain: Pain is usually intense and paroxysmal (sudden and intense) in nature. Episodes of pain can range from mild to moderate or even severely distressing.
Duration of pain: Intermittent isolated episodes of sudden pain can occur every few seconds, minutes or hours. Sometimes, even months or years can pass after one attack.
The frequency of attacks: The attacks of pain can become frequent and intense over time if not treated. Mild attacks may be experienced initially, but if progression takes place, long and frequent bouts of pains can occur.
Time of occurrence: It can occur once the patient is exposed to any triggering factors (and sometimes even without them). It never happens while a person is asleep.
The Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Some of the most common causes of trigeminal neuralgia include:
Pressure: Pressure on the trigeminal nerve from the surrounding blood vessels can lead to neuralgic pain.
Trauma: Physical damage to the nerve can occur as a result of facial injury, dental injury or a surgical procedure that can lead to pain.
Loss of Myelin Sheath: Myelin sheath protects the nerves. Loss of myelin sheath (which can occur as result of aging or condition like multiple sclerosis) can lead to trigeminal neuralgia.
Inflammatory: Inflammatory disorders like Lyme disease and sarcoidosis (autoimmune disorder causing collection of inflammatory cells) can also lead to the development of trigeminal neuralgia.
Collagen Vascular Diseases: Diseases like scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus can trigger trigeminal neuralgia. In such diseases, the immune system causes inflammation in the collagen and surrounding joints.
However, it should be noted that in many cases, there is no specific cause for trigeminal neuralgia.
Factors that Contribute to the Development of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Family History: Trigeminal neuralgia may run in families as it is related to malformation of blood vessels in the brain due to inheritance.
Age: People who are 60 years of age or above usually get affected by this condition.
High Blood Pressure: People with high blood pressure issues are more likely to suffer from trigeminal neuralgia than those with normal blood pressure.
What Triggers Neuralgic Pain?
A person who has trigeminal neuralgia usually has a triggering factor that can result in the onset of an episode of trigeminal neuralgia. Some of the most common triggering factors include washing the face, brushing teeth, talking, touching the face, shaving, putting on makeup, and exposure to drafts of air.
Types of Trigeminal Neuralgia
There are two main types of trigeminal neuralgia. A person may be affected by both the types at the same time.
Typical Trigeminal Neuralgia
Typical trigeminal neuralgia usually results in episodes of severe, sudden, shock-like pains generally affecting one side of the face. Pains may last from few seconds to minutes. Groups of these episodes can occur over a few hours. A touch usually triggers episodic pain in the face. It is a very painful condition.
Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia
Atypical trigeminal neuralgia is also known as type 2 trigeminal neuralgia. The person experiences constant aching, burning and stabbing pain of low intensity (compared to Type 1). This type of pain is difficult to diagnose. It is a rare condition, and the symptoms overlap with several other disorders. It can occur in addition to a migraine headache or can be mistaken for a migraine alone, dental issues, temporomandibular joint disorders or musculoskeletal issues.
The Trigeminal Nerve and its Function
The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve (out of12 total nerves) and is the largest of all the cranial nerves. There is one trigeminal nerve on either side of the face. The trigeminal nerve divides itself further into three branches (hence the name trigeminal). The three branches are named as Ophthalmic nerve (V1), Maxillary nerve (V2), Mandibular nerve (V3). The trigeminal nerve as a mixed cranial nerve responsible for both sensory functions (which include facial sensations such as pressure, thermoception (temperature), nociception (pain)) and motor functions as it supplies the muscles of mastication (chewing and biting) but not the facial expressions.
When Trigeminal neuralgia occurs, one, two or all branches of the nerve may get affected. Most commonly the middle branch (maxillary nerve) and lower branch (mandibular nerve) are affected. The areas of face supplied by the three branches of the trigeminal nerve are:
V1 (The Ophthalmic branch): This branch is responsible for sensation in the scalp, forehead, eye, upper eyelid and tip of the nose.
V2 (The Maxillary branch): This branch is responsible for sensation in the lower eyelid, side of the nose, cheeks, nostrils, upper lip, upper teeth and upper gums.
V3 (The Mandibular branch): This branch is responsible for sensation in lower teeth, lower gums, lower lip, chin, jaw, and part of the ear. Mandibular branch also supplies the muscles involved in mastication (chewing and biting).
Diagnosing Trigeminal Neuralgia
A clinical diagnosis is made after evaluating the description of type, location, frequency and triggering factors of pain. It is essential to rule out the possible causes of occurrence of trigeminal neuralgia. Physical or neurological examination to know the exact location of pain can be performed. These symptoms are enough for clinical diagnosis, and sometimes no tests are required. In some cases, an MRI may be advised to rule out any inflammation or compression.
Complications Associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia
Recurrence is one of the main complications of trigeminal neuralgia. Once the pain sets in, the affected person may not want to brush the teeth or maintain hygiene for fear of triggering the pain. This can lead to severe anxiety and distress in patients who suffer from it.
Managing the Pain of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia can be managed well if one is aware of the particular triggering factors. Avoiding these triggers can help control the occurrence of the debilitating pains and can ultimately improve one’s quality of life. One must avoid:
· Vigorous brushing of teeth
· Eating very hard solid foods
· Exposure to drafts of air
Trigeminal Neuralgia is not life-threatening but can alter one’s quality if not treated well within time.