Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition characterized by moderate to severe pain. However, the condition is not life-threatening. It affects the life of patients and causes certain complications. Various pain measurement tools are applied to measure the intensity of pain.
Can Trigeminal Neuralgia Be Fatal?
Trigeminal neuralgia is not a life-threatening condition, but it causes havoc in a patient’s life by interfering even in routine activities. Patients, because of the fear of trigeminal neuralgia attack refrain from eating, thus there is an impairment of oral nutrition2.
In cases of chronic pain, there is a high risk of secondary depression. As trigeminal neuralgia is caused due to a variety of factors, the morbidity and mortality depend upon the severity of that underlying disease and how well it has been managed.
In a study, patients with trigeminal neuralgia were followed to evaluate death because of specific causes. The results were quite interesting. Relative survival ratio reveals that patients with trigeminal neuralgia were survived for a longer period as compared to the general population and this effect was more dominantly seen in females as compared to males3. However, the study does not claim that trigeminal neuralgia is the disease protecting against death but go on stating that risk factors related to trigeminal neuralgia may be related to a longer life.
How Painful Is Trigeminal Neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic and painful condition. Pain attack starts of a sudden and may last several seconds to a few minutes. The patient experiences variable pain intensity during the trigeminal neuralgia attack. However, sometimes the pain is so intense that it incapacitates the patient both mentally and physically. Accurate measurement of pain is essential to initiate the treatment as well as to evaluate the efficacy of treatment. Various pain scale standards are available to categorize the pain into different categories. The most common of them is Visual Analog Scale. For trigeminal neuralgia, BPI-Facial tool is an effective method that has the ability to assess 2 domains of pain. Apart from this various other pain measurement tools are available. The neurosurgeon is the best person to opt for a tool, that measures the pain intensity with reliability and accuracy.
Complications Of Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic and progressive painful condition. In the absence of any treatment strategy, the patient experiences increased the severity of pain and the quality of life is significantly reduced. Some of the complications related to trigeminal neuralgia include:
Reduced Quality Of Life: Patients with trigeminal neuralgia have reduced the quality of life. They lose the passion to socially interact with people and because of excruciating pain, they feel lower energy and decreased the desire to live a happy life.
Progressive Pain: The pain of trigeminal neuralgia is progressive. Initially, the patient feels mild to moderate pain. But as the condition worsens, the severity of pain increases. This is due to progressive damage to the trigeminal nerve and increased compression by blood vessels.
Interfering In Routine Activities: Symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia interferes with routine activities. The patient may not be able to bite, brush or speak. Speaking in trigeminal neuralgia attack acts as a trigger and further worsens the condition.
Stress: Stress and trigeminal neuralgia symptoms are closely interlinked with each other. While the condition causes stress in the patients whereas, stress also acts as a trigger in initiating or worsening the condition.
Insomnia: Patient with trigeminal neuralgia experiences insomnia, as the attack may also occur at night.
Weight loss: With biting and chewing the food, patient experiences severe pain and thus are afraid of eating. This results in weight loss in such patients1.
Risk Of Permanent Nerve Damage: As the condition progresses, the compression increases. This increases the risk of permanent damage to the trigeminal nerve.
Mortality in trigeminal neuralgia, if occur, may not because of the disease itself but because of the underlying condition. The intensity of pain in trigeminal neuralgia is determined by VAS or BPI-Facial tool.