Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Specialist

Bülent Yapicilar, MD -  - Neurosurgery

Nova Neuroscience

Bülent Yapicilar, MD

Neurosurgery & Cerebrovascular, Spinal, and Brain Tumor Neurosurgery located in Tyson Corner, Vienna, VA & Woodbridge, VA

Trigeminal neuralgia causes intense pain that suddenly shoots across one side of your face, with episodes that are short at first but gradually get longer and more painful when the condition goes untreated. At Nova Neuroscience, Bülent Yapicilar, MD, understands the severity of your pain and has years of experience helping patients find long-lasting relief with medical and surgical treatments. Don’t wait to get help for your facial pain. Call one of the offices in Vienna or Woodbridge, Virginia, or schedule an appointment online today.

Trigeminal Neuralgia Q & A

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, causes recurrent episodes of severe facial pain. The condition occurs when the trigeminal nerve is compressed or irritated.

The trigeminal nerve transmits sensation to your face, scalp, sinuses, nasal cavity, and mouth. It also controls the muscles used when you bite and chew.

Trigeminal neuralgia most often occurs when the nerve is compressed by an artery at the base of your brain. However, trigeminal neuralgia commonly affects patients with multiple sclerosis, and you can develop the problem if a tumor presses against the nerve.

What symptoms develop due to trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia causes one primary symptom, and that’s pain that travels along the nerve. You may also experience muscle twitching.

When the trigeminal nerve is compressed, it can misfire, causing occasional bursts of electric-shock pain. The pain is often excruciating, typically affects one side of your face, and often involves your lower face and jaw.

At first, the pain attacks are very brief and mild. Then they get progressively worse, gradually turning into frequent and longer-lasting attacks of searing pain.

If you don’t get treatment, you may experience 12 or more attacks of severe pain every hour. Trigeminal neuralgia may go into remission, but it’s only temporary.

What triggers trigeminal neuralgia?

The painful episodes caused by trigeminal neuralgia are often triggered by movements or activities, such as:

  • Talking
  • Smiling
  • Washing or shaving your face
  • Applying makeup
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Blowing your nose
  • Drinking hot or cold beverages

Even a light breeze against your face may trigger the shooting pain.

How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?

Medications may provide enough pain relief at first, but their effectiveness wears off over time. Then your only treatment option is surgery. Dr. Yapicilar may recommend one of the following procedures:

Microvascular decompression

During microvascular decompression surgery, Dr. Yapicilar places a special sponge between the blood vessel and nerve, alleviating the pressure on the nerve and giving it time to heal. 

Lesioning procedures

Dr. Yapicilar performs several procedures that relieve your pain by creating a lesion or wound on the nerve. The lesion stops nerve signals from traveling to your brain, which relieves your pain. 

Lesioning is a minimally invasive procedure that uses different techniques to wound the nerve. For example, Dr. Yapicilar may create a lesion using heat, an injection of glycerol, or by temporarily inflating a balloon.

Another option, noninvasive stereotactic radiosurgery, uses precisely focused radiation to target the trigeminal nerve and create a wound.

If you need long-lasting relief from trigeminal neuralgia, call Nova Neuroscience or schedule an appointment online.