Treatments for Trigeminal Neuropathy and other types of facial pain
As with trigeminal neuralgia, medications are the first line of treatments for other types of facial pain. For patients with intractable facial pain or for those unable to tolerate medications, the Colorado Trigeminal Neuralgia Clinic offers two new procedures as well as a tried and true procedure. Our clinic, which treats more facial pain patients than any other center in the region, cares for patients from Colorado, Wyoming, western Kansas, and New Mexico. We also are available for consultation on cases throughout the country.
Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block
The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) block procedure is relatively simple and involves the injection of anesthetic medication to a group of nerves—the sphenopalatine ganglion—to numb the facial pain. After numbing the cheek, the surgeon then uses a small needle injected through the face to deliver the anesthetic medication to the ganglion. This procedure provides only temporary relief, but must be performed twice to show that pain signals are being conducted through this pathway and allow consideration of a radiosurgical treatment of the SPG.
Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery
This non-surgical procedure uses focused beams of radiation to damage the SPG, blocking pain signals traveling through this alternate pathway from the face back to the brain. A study conducted at the Cedars Sinai Center found that patients who responded positively to a SPG block experienced more durable pain resolution with subsequent Gamma Knife® surgery, resulting in relief for 12 or more months in 75% of patients.
Peripheral Nerve Stimulation
During peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS), an electrode is placed close to the peripheral nerve, similar to techniques used with spinal cord injuries. The small electrical device then delivers a current to create “white noise” to distract or lessen the pain signals directed to the brain. The procedure was developed in the mid-1960s and has grown in popularity to treat chronic pain in the last few decades.