Oct 6, 2023 What is Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Blink-182 drummer, Travis Barker, recently went public with details of his current health issues, sharing his struggles with trigeminal neuralgia (TN).

Also known as tic douloureux, trigeminal neuralgia is a neurological condition that is characterized by severe, electrical shock-like pain involving the face, usually on one side. The trigeminal nerve is the main nerve of sensation for each side of the face.

One of the most common causes of this condition appears to be an abnormal blood vessel which may irritate the nerve. Other potential causes may include multiple sclerosis, viral infection, and perhaps dental trauma.

This nerve can be triggered by various mild stimuli, including touching the face, chewing food, talking, brushing teeth, or even a windy breeze. These things can set off excruciating pain.

“The pain that is experienced is commonly described as the worst pain known to mankind,” said David Huang, MD, Radiation Oncologist, The Department of Radiation Oncology at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center. “Oftentimes, the pain feels like a repeated stabbing or electrical shock sensation.”

The unpredictable, severe pain from TN makes it emotionally incapacitating and can significantly impact one's quality of life, as pain attacks can range from a few seconds to occurring regularly for days to weeks.

The treatment for trigeminal neuralgia depends on age, other medical problems, and risk factors.

Medications are often the first line treatment, but if medication does not work, other interventions may include invasive surgery using microvascular decompression or less invasive radiation approaches. Oftentimes, patients may consider stereotactic radiosurgery using Cyberknife as it can be a very effective modality in treating this condition, with fewer risks than surgery.

The experienced and compassionate staff with The Department of Radiation Oncology at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ, offers CyberKnife treatment not only as a noninvasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney, but also for trigeminal neuralgia.

CyberKnife delivers beams of high dose radiation with pinpoint accuracy to the trigeminal nerve roots alleviating the pain and suffering. It also offers key advantages such as being painless, requiring no surgery or incision, fast treatment, minimal side effects, little to no recovery time, and it is covered by most insurances.

To learn more about CyberKnife and The Department of Radiation Oncology, call 973-322-5630 for more information.