Neuralgia

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‘Neuralgia’ is pain that’s caused by damage to nerves. Symptoms typically include sharp, searing pain in the face lasting ten seconds or less, which may occur many times throughout the day. The pain can be triggered by chewing, talking, or other facial movements and can be extremely painful. The most common type is a facial neuralgia called ‘trigeminal neuralgia,’ also called ‘tic.’ This results from pain in one of the branches of the trigeminal nerve. It’s believed the pain is caused by the pulsing of a small artery in the brain as it lies against the nerve. The tic can also result in spasmodic motion of the facial muscles. Another type of neuralgia affects the throat and ear. Non-facial neuralgia, a painful condition known as ‘shingles,’ can occur to people in whom the chickenpox virus has been reactivated. Neuralgia is usually diagnosed by an M-R-I or C-T scan of the base of the skull. Treatment depends on the location of the damaged nerve and the cause of the damage. Several types of drugs may be used to treat the pain, including oral analgesics, topical medications, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and antiviral agents. In severe cases, medications that temporarily deaden pain nerves may be injected, or surgery may be necessary to cut the nerves, although less invasive procedures are usually used, instead.

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