This condition is a disorder of the fifth cranial nerve or trigeminal nerve and causes severe stabbing pain of the lips, gums, cheek, or chin on one side of the face. The pain seldom lasts more than a few seconds or up to two minutes. The pain may be so intense that the patient winces, hence the other term for this condition, painful twitch or tic douloureux.
The cause is unknown. The condition is most common in middle and later life and affects women more than men. Most sufferers are over age 50. In younger people it may be associated with multiple sclerosis.
Attacks typically occur in bouts throughout the day and night for several weeks at a time. Pain free intervals tend to become shorter with time. The pain always starts from one point on the face and can be precipitated by touching the face, washing, shaving, eating, drinking, drafts, or even talking.
The usual treatment is anti-convulsive drugs. Surgery is reserved for severe cases.
The good news is that trigeminal neuralgia responds very well to a series of at least six acupuncture treatments. It is best to choose an experienced acupuncturist. The World Health Organization recognizes trigeminal neuralgia as one of the conditions that can be successfully treated by acupuncture. Treatments should be continued on a regular basis.
A small hand held acupuncture machine can be rented or purchased and appropriate acupuncture points can be stimulated at home on a daily basis. You can order a properly designed device from Acumed at 1-800-567-PAIN or 416-253-6060 as well as other reputable companies.
Other treatment modalities that may be helpful include myofacial release therapy, chiropractic, osteopathy and laser acupuncture.
Daily vitamin-B-12 injections have proven helpful for some. Extra B-vitamins, folic acid, lecithin, choline and inositol are also recommended.
If your friend decides to go off her drugs, she should slowly wean off them while adding in natural treatments at the same time.
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