Who Is At Risk for Trigeminal Neuralgia?
If you have ever experienced a sudden, sharp pain on one side of your face throughout the day, you may be experiencing symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. This syndrome is a debilitating condition which can cause an extreme burning or electric shock-like pain on either side of one’s face, lasting for several seconds to minutes.
Although this pain often occurs randomly, it is sometimes triggered by performing everyday activities, such as chewing, smiling, talking, or even just feeling the wind in your face.
What Are Common Trigeminal Neuralgia Causes?
Physiologically, trigeminal neuralgia pain occurs when the trigeminal nerve, a nerve that connects many parts of the face to the brain, is pinched or damaged. The trigeminal nerve is just one of 12 pairs of nerves attached to the brain. It features three branches which conduct sensations from the upper, middle, and lower portions of the face and oral cavity to the brain.
Trigeminal neuralgia causes typically include various forms of nerve damage. The condition can occur when a blood vessel or tumor presses too close to the trigeminal nerve, putting undue pressure on the sensitive tissue. The trigeminal nerve’s protective coating, called myelin, could also wear away, damaging the nerve itself.
Regardless of trigeminal neuralgia causes, this painful and unpredictable condition can limit one’s typical activity. As such, you may want to determine if you are at risk for trigeminal neuralgia before it occurs. Here are several factors that could put you at a higher risk for developing this condition.
You Might Be At Risk for Trigeminal Neuralgia If:
1. You Are Above 50 Years of Age
It is most common for people greater than fifty years old to develop trigeminal neuralgia. Changes in blood vessels frequently occur at this age due to the presence of medical issues such as hypertension or atherosclerosis. These conditions can potentially cause changes in facial blood vessels, forcing them to pinch down on the trigeminal nerve. It also more likely for this age group to develop tumors, which can put pressure on the facial nerves and result in trigeminal neuralgia symptoms.
2. You Are A Woman
Trigeminal neuralgia seems to be more common in women than men, with one study finding the ratio of occurrence was 1.74 to 1 in favor of women. In other words, for every one man with trigeminal neuralgia, there are 1.74 women with trigeminal neuralgia. Unfortunately, medical experts still are not sure why women are at higher risk than men.
3. You Are Physiologically/Genetically Predisposed
Your family’s physiology is also an important factor in your likelihood of developing trigeminal neuralgia. If any of your family members have ever experienced trigeminal neuralgia pain, you may also be at risk. Your family members may experience this pain due to the formation and size of their blood vessels; since it is likely you have a similarly physiology, your chances of developing trigeminal neuralgia from the pinching of a blood vessel is also higher. There have also been reports of trigeminal neuralgia being genetically transmitted in 1-2% of all cases, suggesting that this condition can even be directly inherited.
Although treatment for trigeminal neuralgia is available, it is still a serious and debilitating condition that can affect anyone. If you are at a higher risk of developing this condition, or already feel its symptoms, you should immediately seek out trigeminal neuralgia treatment options.