Updated: Sep 8
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a debilitating neurological disorder characterized by sudden, severe facial pain along the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for transmitting sensations from the face to the brain. This condition is often referred to as the “suicide disease” and can significantly impact an individual's quality of life, leading them to seek various treatment options for relief. One such approach gaining attention is Upper Cervical Chiropractic (UCC). In this article, we delve into the details of Trigeminal Neuralgia and explore how Upper Cervical Chiropractic may offer a potential avenue for managing this challenging, and often debilitating, condition.
Understanding Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is often described as one of the most excruciating types of pain a person can experience. The trigeminal nerve is the largest of the cranial nerves and is responsible for transmitting sensory information from the face to the brain. When this nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it can lead to sudden, severe, and recurrent episodes of sharp, shooting pain that can last from a few seconds to several minutes. This pain will usually occur in the distribution route of the trigeminal nerve (shown to the right). It can occur in all three regions or as little as one of the regions.These painful episodes, also known as "trigeminal attacks," can be triggered by seemingly harmless activities such as eating, speaking, brushing your teeth or touching the face.
Conventional Treatment Approaches
Conventional treatment options for trigeminal neuralgia typically include medications, such as anticonvulsants and nerve-blocking drugs, and in some cases, surgical interventions like microvascular decompression or gamma knife radiosurgery. While these treatments can provide relief for many individuals, they may come with side effects or risks, and not all patients respond favorably.
Enter Upper Cervical Chiropractic
Upper Cervical Chiropractic is a specialized form of chiropractic care that focuses on the relationship between the upper cervical spine (neck) and its impact on the central nervous system. Practitioners of UCC have great success with treating misalignments in the upper cervical spine that can disrupt normal nerve function and contribute to various health issues, including neurological conditions like TN.
The Connection Between Upper Cervical Spine and Trigeminal Neuralgia
In the Upper Cervical region of the spine, there is a structure known as the trigeminocervical nucleus. This nucleus sits at the level of the spinal cord within the C1-C2 vertebral levels and has a primary function of relaying pain to the face (trigeminal nerve).
If this nucleus becomes compressed or irritated, possibly from a misalignment in the upper cervical spine, it can send aberrant or confusing pain signals to the face. If this nucleus is compressed to a certain extent, it could cause your body to experience pain when it should not be, such as a light touch to your face or the other daily activities listed above.
Case Studies and Anecdotal Evidence
While there is a limited amount of scientific research specifically investigating the efficacy of Upper Cervical Care for trigeminal neuralgia, there are anecdotal reports and case studies that suggest potential benefits. These individual accounts describe improvements in pain intensity, frequency, and duration following UCC treatments.
It is essential for researchers to conduct well-designed clinical trials to thoroughly assess the potential benefits and risks of this approach. Collaboration between upper cervical practitioners, neurologists, and pain specialists could lead to a better understanding of how upper cervical adjustments may influence trigeminal nerve function.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a complex and challenging condition that can significantly impact a person's well-being. Upper Cervical Chiropractic holds promise as a potential, non-invasive, natural approach for managing and even eliminating symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. As our understanding of both trigeminal neuralgia and Upper Cervical Chiropractic evolves, new insights and treatment avenues may emerge, offering hope for those living with this debilitating condition.
About the Author
Dr. Culig, DCCJP is an upper cervical spinal specialist located in Atlanta, GA. He became interested in migraines because his younger sister suffered from them since she was 13 years old. He began to seek out natural ways to treat migraines without the use of drugs or surgery. As a Doctor of Upper Cervical Chiropractic, he has spent over 300 hours in post-graduate courses regarding migraine and has successfully treated hundreds of migraine patients. He has a diplomate in the craniocervical junction (DCCJP) which is a 3-year post graduate program focused on the upper cervical spine and related neurovascular conditions such as Migraine, Trigeminal Neuralgia and Vertigo.