Trigeminal Neuralgia — Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is an alternative to major surgery to treat trigeminal neuralgia.

“I don’t get it, doc,” complains Andy, a 68-year-old plumber from Newport, WA. “I can bust a knuckle on a pipe and it doesn’t slow me down. I just try not to bleed on a customer’s bath mat! But this? My face hurts so bad, I can’t even open my eyes, chew food, brush my teeth, take a shower — for days at a time! And the Tegretol I take doesn’t even touch the pain, only makes me all gorked out, and I can’t leave the house!”

Andy is talking about trigeminal neuralgia. It is characterized by sudden bursts of facial pain; often triggered by a light touch around the mouth or face or by talking, eating or brushing one’s teeth. The pain is in the areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve: the cheeks, jaw, teeth, gums, lips or around the eye, and sometimes lasts for periods of weeks or months.
Andy is in good company. Approximately 14,000 people develop trigeminal neuralgia each year in the United States; about 140,000 people have the condition. Trigeminal neuralgia is more common in patients with multiple sclerosis.

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