October 7 is Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) Awareness Day. Though rare, TN is a debilitating nerve disorder that is also called the “suicide disease” due to the intense pain patients experience.
TN is caused when a blood vessel compresses the fifth cranial nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. Patients are unable to predict when a painful episode will occur, and pain can often be caused by everyday activities like chewing and swallowing.
Below are a few facts on the disorder and ways to support loved ones with TN:
- Wear teal. TN patients have created many initiatives to support TN research and raise awareness. Read more about their efforts here.
- Understand the symptoms. TN is often mistaken for a dental disorder because it often causes sharp pain along the jaw. Many TN sufferers will undergo root canals or tooth extractions before determining the true cause of pain. Early detection can prevent unnecessary procedures and extended pain.
- Review treatment options. Treatment options can include painkillers or other antidepressant or anticonvulsive medications. Though primarily used to treat cancer, the CyberKnife® technology at Columbus CyberKnife can treat TN. Studies have shown CyberKnife treatment can reduce or eliminate pain in about 85 to 90 percent of patients.
- Offer Support. Organizations like the Facial Pain Association and Living With TN offer resources for TN patients to share experiences and offer support.
Former Columbus CyberKnife patient Willie Burroughs shared her story of living with TN and undergoing treatment at our center with WCMH-NBC4. Watch her story in a video here.