Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve in the face. There is no exact known cause of this condition, but experts believe trigeminal neuralgia may be caused by facial traumas, surgical injuries, stroke, or brain abnormalities. Mild stimulation from eating, drinking, or sneezing can cause excruciating pain along the temples, cheeks, and jawline. A trigeminal ganglion block is an injection therapy that provides long-lasting pain relief through the use of neurolytic agents. This injection therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with pain medications, supplemental injections, or minimally invasive surgery to effectively minimize pain symptoms.
A trigeminal ganglion block uses neurolytic agents to provide long-lasting pain relief to patients suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. An Orthopedic and Wellness physician may perform either a classic or image-guided trigeminal ganglion block injection depending on the location and severity of the condition. The classic technique does not utilize x-ray imaging or a fluoroscope to administer the injection, whereas the image-guided technique does. Before the procedure, a sedative will be administered intravenously to help relax the patient. The patient will lie down on a table with his or her head in a neutral position. During the image-guided trigeminal ganglion block, the physician locates the affected areas using x-ray imaging before administering a local anesthetic. Once the injection site is identified, the physician will insert a long needle into areas of the temples, cheeks, and jaw to deliver the medication mixture. After all affected areas have been treated, the physician will apply a bandage over the injection sites and send the patient to a separate room to recover.
Patients will not be permitted to drive or participate in any rigorous activities for at least 24 hours after the injection. Normal activities may be resumed the following day. Although rare, complications from a trigeminal ganglion block can occur. Patients should report serious complications such as infection, bleeding, and nerve damage to their Orthopedic and Wellness physician right away. Common side effects after the injection include difficulty chewing or swallowing, as well as numbness in the face. While bothersome, these side effects should subside within a few hours. Patients may generally begin to experience long-term pain relief two to three days after the procedure.