Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) causes facial pain in a broad sense. Perhaps, it’s why many people tend to mix this pain disorder with other conditions that share similar symptoms. Misdiagnosing pain disorders and other health conditions will not make finding an effective method for relief easy. You might be prescribed techniques that would work well with other pain conditions, wherein you only needed neck exercises for trigeminal neuralgia relief.
This article will talk about the different pain disorders that might get mistaken for trigeminal neuralgia. We’ll differentiate these pain disorders one by one. At the end of the article, we’ll talk about some medication-free methods to alleviate TN, including neck exercises for trigeminal neuralgia.
What Conditions Are Similar to Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Several conditions can make you feel painful sensations on your face and the surrounding regions, such as your necks, ears, and jaws. Unfortunately, neck exercises for trigeminal neuralgia might not be enough to help for some of these conditions:
Toothaches and Other Dental Pains
When you have toothaches, you might feel pain in your jaw or on the skin around your mouth. Dental issues such as decays, cavities, and mouth ulcers can lead to sharp aches that somewhat resemble trigeminal neuralgia pains. However, dental pain frequently goes away immediately after eating cold foods like ice cream whereas cold foods frequently make trigeminal neuralgia pain worse.
Headaches and Migraines
Migraines and headaches are entirely different; however, both conditions list head or facial pains as symptoms. Unlike patients with trigeminal neuralgia, people experiencing headaches and migraines can still afford to smile and eat food as they would normally. With a pain disorder such as trigeminal neuralgia, doctors would advise giving the face some rest from chewing or speaking, as these can trigger pangs of sharp pain in the face.
Sinusitis and Related Ailments
Sinusitis, infections, or other relevant health conditions involve inflammation. This inflammation can resemble the pain and tenderness felt by those who experience trigeminal neuralgia episodes. However, their main difference is that these inflammation-caused aches can go away with anti-inflammatory medications. Over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers and anti-inflammatories, are frequently not effective in treating trigeminal neuralgia pains.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJD)
The Temporomandibular joint or TMJ is a vital joint that enables the closing and opening movements in the jaw. TMJDs encompass several TMJ pain-causing issues that may inhibit the usual function of the jaw for eating, speaking, and yawning. TMJ pains are similar to trigeminal neuralgia pains since the aches may radiate from the jaw to the rest of the face and the neck region.
Myofascial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome (MDPS)
MDPS, in simpler words, refers to muscle pain in the face. Aside from the jaw, our bodies use muscles to open and close the mouth for chewing and talking. MDPS is usually caused by the overexertion of muscles or muscle fatigue in the mouth region, resulting from bruxism or teeth grinding. When a person has MDPS, they experience pain in the lower part of the face.
Glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN)
The irritation of the glossopharyngeal nerve, located behind the ears above the jaw, can result in glossopharyngeal neuralgia. The symptoms of this condition include stinging pains near the tonsils with remissions in between.
What Makes Trigeminal Neuralgia Different?
What sets trigeminal neuralgia apart from the six listed conditions is the cause of the pain. A person diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia has a irritated trigeminal nerve. This nerve sits behind the face and is responsible for the sum of the sensations we feel on our faces. When this nerve becomes irritated or damaged, it affects the transmission of messages between the face and the brain. The disruption of signals can manifest as facial pains that can get aggravated when the skin is touched or moved.
Trigeminal neuralgia patients may find themselves incapable of doing daily tasks due to the excruciating pain. Everyday activities such as eating and drinking might become a burden for those diagnosed with this pain disorder.
Trigeminal neuralgia pains can also get in the way of normal and natural conversations between people. Moving your mouth to talk, for people with TN, becomes an excessively challenging part of their life. Many patients with TN put their thoughts into writing rather than speaking, while some even started learning sign language to cope with their disorder.
Trigeminal neuralgia can literally take away smiles from the faces of those who suffer from this condition. Smiling takes muscle movements, and even a slight movement of muscle or skin on the face can trigger or potentially worsen a TN episode. People with trigeminal neuralgia also experience difficulty in expressing other emotions on their faces. Many patients find themselves unable to laugh, frown, grin, or even cry, as these facial expressions can only aggravate the pain they already feel.
How Do I Cope with Trigeminal Neuralgia?
For those experiencing this disorder who are looking for nonsurgical alternatives, there are some medication-free ways that you can try to alleviate facial pain:
Apply heat on the affected area— Trigeminal neuralgia usually affects one part of the face. Placing a hot compress or a warm towel on this area can help relax the muscles and may help relieve the pain.
Understand and avoid your triggers— Muscle movements are the classic triggers for this condition—however, some people with trigeminal neuralgia report experiencing debilitating pain in their faces from cold. Try to write in a journal about your daily activities to pinpoint what things can aggravate your condition.
Try neck exercises for trigeminal neuralgia— Stress is another typical trigger for trigeminal neuralgia. When a person is stressed, they might experience muscle tightening and unconsciously grind their teeth, leading to trigeminal neuralgia pains. Doing neck exercises, such as stretching slowly while taking deep breaths and doing the following motions:
- tilting your head from side to side
- bringing your head forward
- rotating your head from side to side
It is important to make sure you let your shoulders relax when doing these types of neck exercises. These can help loosen these muscles, giving your face some relief.
Get Your Smile Back from Trigeminal Neuralgia Through NUCCA Procedure
Several trigeminal neuralgia cases point at neck misalignments as a possible cause for the painful sensations. This is a solid connection since the trigeminal nerve sits close to the upper cervical spine. Hence, a misalignment in the upper neck can irritate the trigeminal nerve, leading to trigeminal neuralgia development.
Correcting misalignments in the upper neck are the main focus of NUCCA chiropractors. NUCCA procedures consist of customized adjustment procedures that fit the needs of each patient. These adjustments are gentle yet extremely accurate movements to realign the spine back into place.
Many patients with trigeminal neuralgia have experienced long-lasting pain relief from NUCCA doctors. Get your smile back; contact a NUCCA chiropractor near you today!