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Trigeminal Neuralgia

Updated: Apr 6

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia and Why it is Triggered?

Trigeminal neuralgia is widely regarded as being one of, if not THE most painful neurological condition known to humankind. If you have ever got a grain of sand or eyelash in your eye, you know how unpleasant that is. But now imagine that it never goes away.

If you have never experienced the pain of trigeminal neuralgia, you are fortunate. Imagine setting a fire on the branches of the nerves in your face, mouth eyes, or teeth. Things like sciatica and migraines are severe enough, but this is something that affects your face, which is one of the most sensitive parts of the body. The exact thing that often triggers trigeminal neuralgia in people remains a mystery. Sometimes it is attributed to stress. Other times it is attributed to a virus. Other times it is the result of a dental infection. Other times it is simply the accumulation of pressure on the nerve. And other times still it can be the result of an undiagnosed problem in the neck. The potential list of triggers for trigeminal neuralgia may be endless. One of the first and most important things is finding some relief. Often this requires very heavy-duty nerve and pain blockers.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Long Term Effects

What is important to emphasise is that such chemicals should not be taken for a long time, or else they can cause serious damage to your body. Now, when you’re dealing with potentially the most painful neurological condition known to humanity, you’ve gotta take what you’ve gotta take!  Alas, both as side effects of medication but also as a result of the pain itself, pain people with trigeminal neuralgia suffer many additional problems that affect not only their body but also their mind.,

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Foremost is a horrific sense of depression. Any human being who has suffered chronic pain experiences depression and hopelessness in one form or another that, despite all advanced in health and medical science that there is no cure for them. Thus, they have to simply make the best of life against the odds.

Chronic pain may also produce what are collectively known as “dysthymic” disorders, aka conditions that affect your overall mood and disposition. Again, for any person who experiences chronic or even acute pain who does not become irritable, impatient, or depressed, THAT is actually the abnormal person. Again, it is a terrible way to live, which is why people who suffer trigeminal neuralgia openly confess that they would be willing to do anything - and I do mean ANYTHING - to stop the pain. Medication, surgery, anything.

At the end of the day, it is imperative then that by using the medication as a stop-gap measure that you find out the underlying cause of your trigeminal neuralgia so that you can experience not just short-term relief, but ideally a more permanent solution.


New Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia

There may be hope for people who experience trigeminal neuralgia but have not experienced relief elsewhere. It is a unique approach to healthcare known as Blair Upper Cervical specific care.

If you or a family member experience trigeminal neuralgia, you have likely done your fair share of research that it is a condition that affects the sensory branches of the trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve #5) or the sensory processing centre in the brainstem. We will not be re-hashing all the details in this particular article.

Instead, we will be focusing on what you can do about it especially if you experience trigeminal neuralgia but all your tests so far have come back as “normal.”


You see, there are three general categories of trigeminal neuralgia:

  1. Classic Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is caused by inflammation around the branches of the trigeminal nerve and that is clearly visible on scans like an MRI

  2. Secondary Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is caused by a physical structure such as a tumor, infection, or sclerotic lesion (e.g., multiple sclerosis) that is irritating the branches of the trigeminal nerve. Again. it is clearly visible on MRI scans.

  3. Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia, which occurs but without a visible cause.


It is for people in this category - the trigeminal neuralgia without a known cause because all the MRI scans say “everything is normal” when it clearly isn’t - that Blair upper cervical care may be an important option.

Blair upper cervical care is a special division of chiropractic that focuses on the alignment of the top vertebrae in the neck: the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis).

These two vertebrae have a powerful impact on the interface between your brain and spinal cord. In other words, a biomechanical problem affecting the alignment of either of these bones may have the potential to disrupt the normal function of the brainstem.

And guess where the processing centres for the trigeminal nerve is? That’s right: the brainstem!

In this article, I want to share with you a bit more information about the potential link between the upper part of your neck and trigeminal neuralgia.

More importantly, I want to explain how this important approach to healthcare may be able to help you find the relief that you have been seeking from trigeminal neuralgia … and of course, ideally without medication or surgery if it is possible.


Trigeminal Neuralgia Symptoms and Indicators

The sensory processing centre for the branches of the trigeminal nerve is known as the spinal trigeminal nucleus (STN). The STN is located in the caudal pons and is contiguous through the lower brainstem (medulla) and into the spinal cord all the way down to C2-C4 in the upper neck!

Due to physical ligament attachments in the upper neck (called myodural bridges), it may, therefore, be possible for the vertebrae in the upper neck to produce tension, which ultimately affects the function of the brainstem.

Think of it as a computer processing error. A physical issue that causes a functional problem. And because it is a functional problem, it isn’t something that you can see on an MRI scan. 

This may well explain how cases of “idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia” can exist in the first place when they aren’t caused directly by a tumor or damage to the nerve itself. Instead, it may be possible that a problem in the neck is disrupting the function of the nerve processing centres, and that is the source of the pain.

It may also explain why for many people with trigeminal neuralgia, many fo the early symptoms and indicators don’t actually involve pain on the face or jaw, but instead the head or neck. The processing centre of the brainstem for trigeminal neuralgia is the same sensory processing centre for headaches, migraines, jaw, and neck pain.

Although these problems are common, they are NEVER normal. 

In the same breath, headaches, migraines, neck, or jaw pain are not always precursors to trigeminal neuralgia. And it is usually not until facial or dental problems appear that people start to suspect trigeminal neuralgia.

Early symptoms and indicators for trigeminal neuralgia including tingling on the face, teeth, jaw, eyes, or cheeks. Other times, unfortunately, there are no early trigeminal neuralgia symptoms or indicators. It comes on suddenly and all at once. We once cared for a client, who fell asleep against a chair rest on public transport and awoke with trigeminal neuralgia.

Fortunately, the usual onset of trigeminal neuralgia is not quite so unexpected. When you go back through history and consider all the early warning signs that were not acted upon - namely the history of head, neck, or whiplash injury and the symptoms of headache or migraine that appear thereafter - it often makes sense in hindsight.

The question then becomes, “What can you do about it?”


Can Trigeminal Neuralgia be Permanent?

Trigeminal neuralgia does NOT need to be something that controls your life.

Fortunate are the people who experience classic Trigeminal Neuralgia, where there is simply friction against the nerve. If so, a relatively simple surgical procedure known as a “microvascular decompression” has an excellent rate of success!

Alas, for people who experience idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia, at least from a medical perspective because they cannot identify the underlying cause, the only treatment is pain medication to mask the symptoms.

Fortunately for you that you are now learning about the relationship between your neck and trigeminal neuralgia. Therefore, there may still be hope that a different approach could be able to offer you the relief you so desire.


Where do I start with upper cervical care and trigeminal neuralgia?

The first step in treating trigeminal neuralgia is going through the initial medical process of having a brain MRI to rule-out pathology such as a brain tumor, or to identify if you are a candidate for microvascular decompression surgery. 

IF your specialist cannot identify the cause of your trigeminal neuralgia on MRI, and/or if you have the surgery but it makes no difference at all, it points that the root of your condition is most likely functional rather than pathological.

Here is where it is important to have a proper look at the alignment and structure of your neck to determine its potential involvement with a Blair upper cervical specific doctor.

(Of important note, if you also experience things like headaches, migraines, neck pain, jaw problems or dizziness, then a visit to a Blair upper cervical doctor can be done straight away without a referral).

A Blair upper cervical doctor is a unique type of chiropractor, who has done additional study and certification in the role of the neck and nerve system, including its role in conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia.

Rather than employing general manipulation, a Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor performs a series of specialised tests first in order to identify the presence, direction, and degree of any misalignments in your upper neck.

These tests include a physical assessment of your neck, neurological tests including paraspinal thermography, and also customised diagnostic imaging that allows us to see things that we do not see even on routine CT or MRI scans.

From here, a Blair upper cervical chiropractic doctor is able to put together a treatment plan and protocol, specifically designed just for you, with expected timeframes and outcomes to help you resolve the underlying conditions of your neck. 

When we do this, we find that many people with trigeminal neuralgia are finally able to experience relief. In this way, we are not directly treating the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia like medication does. Instead, we are working to address the underlying issues that may well be the root cause … and by addressing these, we are able to allow your body to do what it is designed to do: heal itself.

So, if this article has made sense and resonates with you, we would like to hear from you to find out if we can help you. Our practice, Atlas Health is dedicated to helping people with chronic health conditions including trigeminal neuralgia so that they can get back to enjoying the quality of life that they truly desire.

We offer a 15-minute phone consultation (for fee) to discuss your unique circumstances and to answer any question you have may so that you can decide if Blair upper cervical care may be right for you.


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