Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia (ATN) - Symptoms (1)
Most patients report that their pain begins spontaneously and seemingly out of nowhere. Other patients say their pain follows a car accident, a blow to the face or dental surgery. Most physicians and dentists do not believe that dental work can cause trigeminal neuralgia. In these cases, it is more likely that the disorder was already developing, and the dental work caused the initial symptoms to be triggered coincidentally.
Pain often is first experienced along the upper or lower jaw, so many patients assume they have a dental abscess. Some patients see their dentists and actually have a root canal performed, which inevitably brings no relief. When the pain persists, patients realize the problem is not dental-related.
The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is defined as either classic or atypical. With classic pain, there are definite periods of remission. The pain is intensely sharp, throbbing and shock-like, and usually triggered by touching an area of the skin or by specific activities. Atypical pain often is present as a constant, burning sensation affecting a more widespread area of the face. With atypical trigeminal neuralgia, there may not be a remission period, and symptoms are usually more difficult to treat.
Trigeminal neuralgia tends to run in cycles. Patients often suffer long stretches of frequent attacks followed by weeks, months or even years of little or no pain. The usual pattern, however, is for the attacks to intensify over time with shorter pain-free periods. Some patients suffer less than one attack a day, while others experience a dozen or more every hour. The pain typically begins with a sensation of electrical shocks that culminates in an excruciating stabbing pain within less than 20 seconds. The pain often leaves patients with uncontrollable facial twitching, which is why the disorder is also known as tic douloureux.
Attacks of trigeminal neuralgia may be triggered by the following:
- Touching the skin lightly
- Brushing teeth
- Blowing the nose
- Drinking hot or cold beverages
- Encountering a light breeze
- Applying makeup
The symptoms of several pain disorders are similar to those of trigeminal neuralgia. Temporal tendinitis involves cheek pain and tooth sensitivity, as well as headaches and neck and shoulder pain. This condition is called a "migraine mimic" because its symptoms are similar to those of a migraine. Ernest syndrome is an injury of the styomandubular ligament, which connects the base of the skull with the lower jaw, producing pain in areas of the face, head and neck. Occipital neuralgia involves pain in the front and back of the head that sometimes extends into the facial region.
(1) Source: The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS)
Black Hills 100 - 50 Miler Race Training (24 days to race day):
Scheduled to run 57 miles this week in preparation for the 50 Miler on June 27th. Have covered 14 miles so far...43 miles to go before Sunday morning!