The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial (originates in the cranium/brain) nerve. It is responsible for giving us sensation on our face. Trigeminal neuralgia (aka: tic douloureux) refers to a condition where there is pain over the area that this nerve supplies. There are three sections of this nerve that supply sensation to either side of the face; as a result pain can be experienced in the eye, lips, nose, forehead, scalp, cheek, and/or jaw. Click here for the trigeminal nerve’s distribution.
This condition has often been found to be instigated by a cold breeze on the face (such as sleeping or driving with a window open), shaving, chewing, brushing your teeth, extreme opening of the mouth (such as in yawning), or sometimes for no known reason. Other, more serious problems like multiple sclerosis and tumors may be a cause. The more common reasons for changes in the function of this nerve have been deemed to be due to inflammation from an infection or pressure of a muscle or blood vessel.
The standard medical treatment for this condition is typically anti-convulsants, muscle relaxers, or maybe antibiotics (if it’s secondary to an infection). If medication doesn’t work, surgery may be the next step in conventional treatment.
My personal approach to this disorder is to restore proper motion and function of the cranial bones that this nerve passes through. This would include gentle cranial bone and cervical spine adjusting, in addition to balancing the muscles of the head, neck, and TMJ. Other factors affecting the alignment of the cranial bones, cervical spine, and TMJ would definitely need to be considered as well; which may include correcting the biomechanics of the pelvis and feet.
Nutritional considerations might include supplements that help control inflammation, reduce muscle spasms, and/or up-regulate the immune system. The most important thing to consider is that we are all individuals and treatment is based on your specific needs.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology