Imagine a situation wherein brushing your teeth, applying make-up or merely the sensation of breeze on your face triggers a jolt of excruciating pain!!! Yes, 1 in 20,000 people suffer from this debilitating condition and it is known by the term, “Trigeminal Neuralgia”.
SHORT DESCRIPTION ABOUT THE CONDITION& SYMPTOMS
The trigeminal nerve (or cranial nerve V), so named because it has three (tri) branches, plays a major role in facial sensation; one of its branches also regulates chewing.
When I say cranial nerve, I’m referring to nerves exiting from the brain. There are a total of 12 cranial nerves. These help recognizing sensations like pain, touch, temperature, etc. (sensory) and are responsible for the movements (motor) of different areas of the head and neck region. Damage or defect to a particular nerve, leads to loss of function and hence, numbness, increased sensitivity or inability to move that particular area of the face, supplied by the nerve.
ORIGIN OF SYMPTOMS
When this nerve gets inflamed, you experience intense pain. The frequency of pain varies from patient to patient. It might occur every few hours, minutes or seconds. At times, there is a gap of months before the pain occurs. Irritation of the nerve or compression of the nerve by a surrounding tumor or an abnormally dilated blood vessel might be the cause of pain.
Is there a cure?
Medications initially work, they gradually loose efficiency over time, though. Surgery and other minimally invasive techniques are available. But, these techniques have their own risks, complications, and recurrence rates. However a procedure termed “Percutaneous retrogasserian glycerol rhizotomy” is very much in demand and has become quite popular in the recent times.
Percutaneous retrogasserian glycerol rhizotomy(PRGR) is a simple, safe and cost effective procedure, with an excellent outcome.
Glycerol…Well, can we call it a magical component? We know that in its nitrated form, it can save your heart. However, recent studies done on rats prove its ability to cure issues related to the nerves too!
Glycerol has an ability to destroy nerves (neurolytic)bydeactivatingthe nerve fibers that are responsible for transmitting pain, touch and temperature sensations from the body to brain. This property of glycerol is indeed special, because the deactivation happens selectively.Injected glycerol senses the partially damaged nerve that keeps firing improper signals, and selectively destroysit. Thus the good nerves remain unaffected. This procedure that selectively destroys problematic nerves, is known as rhizotomy. It was indeed a breakthrough finding! The procedure was named as “Percutaneous retrogasserian glycerol rhizotomy”.
Percutaneous because the procedure is performed by injecting glycerol through the skin; To understand the term retrogasserian, lets get into a little bit of neurosurgery basics. A single nerve comprises of a cell body, tail(axon) and nerve fibers. Multiple nerve cell bodies grouped together, anywhere outside the brain and spinal cord, is known as a ganglion. ‘Retro’ is behind, back or posterior. A retrogasserian ganglion refers to the posterior part of the trigeminal ganglion, responsible for transmitting sensory signals.
Glycerol is injected via an entry point, few centimeters away from the corner of the mouth, directed upwards and into the retrogasserian ganglion. Once injected, after a few minutes of initial numbness and pain, you will recover and be absolutely pain-free.
We advise patients who suffer from frequent recurrence of trigeminal neuralgia, to undergo this procedure for a complete cure.