October 7th was Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day and for many reading or hearing the stories, like the story on CNN.com, this condition may not be familiar. However, for those suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, every day can be challenging.
Facial pain in Trigeminal Neuralgia is characterized by episodes of intense pain lasting from a few seconds to hours at a time. The attacks are often described as electric shock like, burning, pressing, crushing, or shooting pain. Patients describe areas on the face as sensitive to the point that even a gentle breeze of wind can trigger an episode of pain.
Once diagnosed, trigeminal neuralgia can be treated with medications, surgical procedures or the Gamma Knife. The Gamma Knife is an outpatient procedure precisely directing 192 beams of radiation to the root of the trigeminal nerve. Most patients have a dramatic improvement in their pain.