What is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) and can it be treated with Ketamine?
Chronic pain is a life-changing diagnosis. It may be related to injury, inflammation, or related to some type of nerve dysfunction. The main symptom is pain that lasts for at least 12 weeks, and it may persist for years. Many of those that suffer from chronic pain have tried multiple treatment modalities. These may include medications, surgery, acupuncture, physical therapy, and even mental health treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, also known as the fifth cranial nerve. The 5th cranial nerve conducts sensation signals from the face to the brain. This condition, whether the result of an injury, such as a car accident, other actions that cause dysfunction, or chronic inflammation, TN occurs when an artery or vein of the neck encroaches on the nerve.
What are the symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms are intense and at times debilitating, but not life-threatening. Sometimes mild stimulation, such as brushing the teeth, touching the skin, shaving, eating or drinking, smiling, or talking may trigger a jolt of the intense burning pain those with TN describe. The pain usually occurs first in the upper or lower jaw. Symptoms include cheek pain, dental pain (without evidence of dental issues), headaches, or neck and shoulder pain. TN is often called a “migraine mimic” due to the similarity of the symptoms.
Are there different types?
Once diagnosed, TN can be differentiated into two different types. In Type 1, or classic TN, there are definite periods of remission from the pain. These remissions may last from weeks to years. Type 2, or atypical TN, is noted by the constant presence of pain. It is often described as a burning sensation and affects a much larger area of the face. Type 2 may not have any remission periods, and treatment is more difficult.
Both types of TN are chronic conditions that tend to worsen in severity over time. The disease may have a negative impact on your quality of life. It may also impact your mental health and depression is common in those with TN. Stress may further aggravate TN and in turn, create a stress-induced pain response and increase in severity of pain experienced.
How is TN treated?
Treatment for TN consists of medications for pain, anticonvulsants, and those that help decrease nerve response, but most medications only offer short term relief. Other options include surgeries to correct the encroachment of the blood vessels on the nerve.
Ketamine and Trigeminal Neuralgia
Ketamine infusion therapy is now noted as a treatment modality for trigeminal neuralgia and the related pain it causes. Ketamine, an antagonist to the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptors in the brain. According to Mogahed et al (2017) Ketamine infusion is associated with more analgesic effect and lesser anticonvulsant therapy requirements. It was also noted that there were minimal post-infusion complications.
Ketamine Wellness Centers has been providing ketamine treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia for over 5 years now with tremendous success. Treatments are unique based on the patient’s history so please reach out to us at 855-KET-WELL to learn more about how we can help you get the pain relief you deserve.
Mogahed MM, Anwar AG, Mohamed RM (2017) Comparative Study between Intravenous Ketamine and Lidocaine Infusion in Controlling of Refractory Trigeminal Neuralgia. J Anesth Clin Res
8: 746. doi:10.4172/2155-6148.1000746
Christine Ryan is the Chief Clinical Officer at Ketamine Wellness Centers