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Common Questions About Chiropractic Care for 5th Trigeminal Nerve Pain

Published Date: 
January 27, 2023
An older man is suffering pain in his face from the trigeminal nerve.

Have questions about chiropractic care for 5th trigeminal nerve pain? Here’s what you need to know.


What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia, also called tic douloureux, is a chronic pain disorder affecting the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is one of the largest nerves in the human body and transmits sensation from your face to your brain. In trigeminal neuralgia patients, the usually reliable pathway becomes hypersensitive, and the pain response goes haywire.

The intensity and duration of the pain vary from patient to patient. Some people may experience a few very brief attacks, while others may have hours-long periods of pain several times per day. 

What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?

The symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia can vary depending on the specific type of this condition, but some general signs and symptoms to be aware of include:

  • Intense pain that often feels like a stabbing or burning sensation, usually in your face or head
  • Episodes of severe facial pain that may only last for seconds or minutes
  • Mild headaches, muscle twitching around your eyes, a feeling that you have something in your eye when there isn't anything there

What causes trigeminal neuralgia?

The exact cause of trigeminal neuralgia is unknown, but many factors can increase your risk. It can be caused by anything that causes swelling or inflammation in the area around the trigeminal nerve, including trauma, tumors, and infections.

You have a high chance of developing trigeminal neuralgia if you have multiple sclerosis (MS) or a related disorder known as immune-mediated demyelinating disease (IMDD). 

Other factors that may increase your risk include: 

What activities trigger trigeminal neuralgia?

Several different things might trigger trigeminal neuralgia, including:

  • Sudden movements of the head or face
  • Exposure to bright light
  • Physical injuries
  • Dental procedures
  • Taking certain medications, especially cancer pain management and depression medications

Can trigeminal neuralgia be caused from a brain cyst in the cistern area?

Yes. A brain cyst in the cistern area near the trigeminal nerve can cause trigeminal neuralgia. Several factors, including an infection or head trauma, can cause a brain cyst.

A woman is wincing in pain and clutching her face due to trigeminal neuralgia pain.

Can neck misalignment cause trigeminal neuralgia?

Neck misalignment is a condition that affects the vertebrae of the neck, causing pain and discomfort in this area. While some research has linked neck misalignment to other medical conditions such as headaches, back pain, and more, there is much less evidence suggesting that it can also contribute to trigeminal neuralgia. 

However, experts agree that neck misalignment can exacerbate symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. 

Can trigeminal neuralgia cause neck pain?

Yes. Symptoms of neck pain due to trigeminal neuralgia vary depending on the individual. It may be a sharp, sudden pain in one area of the neck or associated with numbness or tingling. If left untreated, trigeminal neuralgia can cause chronic pain that is difficult to manage.

How do you stretch the trigeminal nerve?

You can stretch the trigeminal nerve by applying pressure to different points along its path, including:

  • The temporomandibular joint, located near your jaw
  • Your forehead and cheekbones, especially the area around your eyes
  • Your scalp and temples, located at the front of your head just above your ears

Applying pressure to any of these areas can help stretch the trigeminal nerve, relieve pain, and reduce tingling or numbness in your face. 

How is trigeminal neuralgia diagnosed?

Trigeminal neuralgia is usually diagnosed through clinical tests and imaging scans. 

A woman is getting relief from trigeminal nerve pain with chiropractic care.

For example, your doctor will likely do a physical exam to identify the areas of your face most sensitive to touch or heat and any other possible causes of your pain. They may also recommend an MRI or CT scan to take a closer look at the structure of your brain and nerve pathways.

There is no definitive test for trigeminal neuralgia. Still, these tests can help your doctor get a complete picture of your condition and help them develop a treatment plan best suited to your individual needs.

How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?

Some common treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia include: 

  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Lifestyle changes

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your trigeminal neuralgia, your doctor may recommend one or a combination of these treatments.

Trigeminal nerve pain is often treated with medications that can alleviate inflammation in the area where the pain occurs. These may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids. For more severe and persistent pain, your doctor may prescribe medications such as anticonvulsants and antidepressants.

Surgery may be recommended if the medication does not effectively control your trigeminal neuralgia symptoms. 

In addition to medications and surgery, you can make several lifestyle changes that can help reduce trigeminal nerve pain. These may include avoiding triggers that cause pain, such as bright lights or sudden movement. Additionally, some people find trigeminal neuralgia relief from practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation.

Can massage help trigeminal neuralgia?

Yes. Massage therapy is often used to help treat conditions and ailments, including trigeminal neuralgia. Massage therapy for trigeminal neuralgia reduces inflammation in the affected area, helping to calm the nervous system and improve circulation.

Can trigeminal neuralgia be treated without surgery?

Sometimes. In many cases, trigeminal neuralgia can be treated with medications or alternative treatment options such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, nerve stimulation, or physical therapy.

Can a chiropractor treat trigeminal neuralgia?

Yes. Spinal manipulation may help relieve symptoms in some patients, and experts believe spinal misalignments may irritate nerves and contribute to the condition.

A chiropractor is administering therapeutic massage to alleviate trigeminal nerve pain.

Can a chiropractor help with facial pain?

Yes. Chiropractic care can be an effective treatment option for facial pain. It is a non-invasive approach aiming to improve the musculoskeletal system's function.

Can a chiropractor release a trapped nerve?

Yes, a chiropractor can help trapped trigeminal nerves and other causes of facial pain. Facial pain generally refers to any pain in the face, and it may manifest as facial tingling or numbness, headaches, jaw pain, and more. Chiropractors are trained to help treat patients with these types of pain by addressing underlying physical causes, such as trigeminal neuralgia or muscles that are out of balance.

How common is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a very rare and serious condition, affecting only a small part of the population. It occurs when there is damage to or dysfunction in one of the branches of the trigeminal nerve, which provides sensation to your face and mouth. This nerve damage can result from physical trauma to the face, as with a car accident or a sports injury, or an underlying problem with the nerve itself may cause it. The cause of trigeminal neuralgia is typically unknown and often difficult to diagnose.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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