Managing Trigeminal Neuralgia: Surgical Options for Pain Relief

Discover how surgical interventions offer relief to those battling the excruciating pain of trigeminal neuralgia. In this blog, let’s explore symptoms, triggers and some of the trigeminal neuralgia treatment options.

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a debilitating neurological disorder that causes sudden and severe pain, usually on one side of the face. In this chronic condition, the trigeminal nerve, responsible for transmitting sensations from the face to the brain, becomes irritated or compressed, leading to sharp, shooting pain in the affected area.

There are three types of trigeminal neuralgia: classical, secondary, and idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia. Various factors contribute to this neurological condition, including nerve damage, ageing, inflammation, and compression of the trigeminal nerves.

(pic credit-freepik)

Symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Some of the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia include the following:

  • Severe facial pain
  • Regular aches and pains
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation
  • Burning sensation on one side of the face
  • Short bursts of severe pain
(pic credit- freepik)

Certain simple activities, such as touching your face, eating, and drinking, and applying any impact or pressure to your face, can trigger painful episodes.

Triggers for Trigeminal Neuralgia

The pain of trigeminal neuralgia can be triggered by various factors, including:

  • Everyday activities involve movement of the facial muscles, such as chewing, talking, or smiling.
  • Touch or vibrations include washing the face, applying makeup, or shaving.
  • Exposure to cold air or wind on the face, especially around the mouth and nose.
  • Eating and drinking
  • Brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash
  • Applying any impact or pressure to your face, especially to your cheek or jawline

Surgical Options for Trigeminal Neuralgia

While medications are often the first line of treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, some individuals may not achieve adequate pain relief or may experience undesirable side effects. In such cases, surgical intervention may be considered to alleviate pain and improve the overall well-being of the patient.

Some of the surgical procedures for trigeminal neuralgia treatment are discussed below.

  1. Microvascular Decompression (MVD)

It is one of the major surgical options for treating trigeminal neuralgia, as it is a less invasive surgical procedure. During the procedure, the neurosurgeon places a tiny cushioning pad or Teflon sponge between the trigeminal nerve and the blood vessels, effectively insulating the nerve from contact. MVD has shown excellent long-term results in reducing or eliminating pain in many patients.

2. Radiofrequency Rhizotomy

It is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to remove sensation from a painful nerve that is sending pain signals to the brain. This procedure is carried out by inserting a needle through the cheek, which is then used by surgeons to send electric signals to identify the specific pain point on the trigeminal nerve. Radiofrequency rhizotomy is also known as radiofrequency ablation, in which a radiofrequency current is used to burn the fibres.

3. Glycerol Injection Rhizotomy

(pic credit- Winnipeg)

Glycerol injection is a less invasive alternative to surgical procedures that involves injecting glycerol, a chemical agent, into the trigeminal nerve root. The glycerol causes the nerve to compress and damage, leading to pain relief. 


For those suffering from the relentless pain of trigeminal neuralgia, surgical options provide significant pain relief and improved quality of life. Individuals with trigeminal neuralgia must work closely with their neurosurgeon to explore the most suitable surgical option based on their unique medical history and condition.

With advancements in neurosurgical techniques, many patients can find lasting relief from the burden of trigeminal neuralgia and rediscover a life free from debilitating pain.

Consult a neurosurgeon to get an effective trigeminal neuralgia treatment plan according to your physical health and the severity of the symptoms.

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