Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment Options

You may only think of Palo Verde Cancer Specialists as the best place in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas for cancer care and treatment. However, the vast array of radiation tools allows the radiation experts at Palo Verde to effectively treat Trigeminal Neuralgia (TM). This crippling disorder is marked by severe, sharp and sudden pain that shoots through one side of the face. The Trigeminal nerve runs through the face from top to bottom and is divided into three divisions: eye/forehead; cheek; jaw. The cheek and jaw are most affected by TM and that is why many people think they have a dental problem when symptoms of TM first develop. Such symptoms should be evaluated by a dentist to rule out dental problems as a source of the pain.

The cause of TN is usually when a blood vessel compresses the trigeminal nerve. It can happen suddenly and last several years and even decades. The number of attacks can be seasonal and vary from several each day to a few each year.

TM is divided into types – Typical and Atypical. The Typical or Classic type of TM involves a sharp, shooting pain in the face, with spans of no pain in between. Typical TM can be set off by touching the face, chewing, eating or swallowing. The second type of TM is called Atypical. It has the same periodic sharp, shooting pain, but also adds a more dull constant pain that never goes away and grows stronger with time.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatments Available In Phoenix

Palo Verde Cancer Specialists has an array of radiation treatment technologies that can serve patients, depending on their needs. TN is treated with medication, surgery or external radiation therapy, all of which offer varying degrees of success.

  • Medication.

    Medication is often the first line of treatment for TN patients. These may work for patients, sometimes for long periods of time. However, patients often have their pain return and/or experience fatigue or other significant side effects.

  • Surgery.

    Young patients especially choose surgery for TM, including a procedure known at microvascular decompression (MVD). This treatment method has a long-term cure and does not cause significant facial numbness. However, open surgery also carries risks of infection, arterial or cranial-nerve injury or stroke. Certain patients may have medical conditions that prevent surgery, while others may object to surgery.

  • If medical treatments are not successful, patients often choose surgery, including a procedure known as microvascular decompression (MVD). Younger TN patients often prefer MVD because of its potential of a long-term cure without causing significant facial numbness. Open surgery also carries risks of infection, arterial or cranial-nerve injury or stroke. Some patients may not be able to have surgery to due age, medical condition or personal preferences.
  • Other procedures.

    Several TM treatments attempt to get rid of the TMKnown as radiofrequency rhizotomy, glycerol rhizotomy or nerve balloon compression attempt to destroy trigeminal nerve fibers that cause pain. These operations have varying degrees of success, and pain relief often doesn’t last more than a few years. Therefore, the treatment typically must be repeated several times over a patient’s life.

  • CyberKnife Stereotactic Radiosurgery.

    CyberKnife in Phoenix is a type of external radiation technology that focuses radiation beams directly to the nerve. The radiation experts at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists use the CyberKnife to treat TN without the need for cutting or surgery. The treatment involves focusing radiation on the trigeminal nerve. The radiation will cause injury to the nerve preventing it from transmitting the pain. It also stimulates a healing process that, over time can relieve pain. The success of this procedure is 90 percent to 95 percent with few side effects.

CyberKnife is unique in many ways, including:

  • Robotic arm is flexible to reach the exact end of the nerve from any angle.
  • High-tech imaging system tracks your slightest movement and adjust the radiation beams to stay focused on the nerve, avoiding adjacent healthy tissue.
  • Uses a comfortable, flexible mask to help keep head steady during treatment, while other systems, like Gamma Knife, require that your head be tied into a rigid metal frame bolted to a table.
  • High doses of beams are transmitted in one to five short sessions, one per day.

Ease Your Pain With Palo Verde Cancer Specialists

Customers from throughout the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale areas find our professional, friendly office staff helpful and knowledgeable. We encourage your to find out all you can about TM and its affects on you. Contact our radiation experts at any of our six convenient locations to find out more. We are happy to explain fully the process of radiation and how it can benefit you.

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