TN is a chronic, neuropathic pain condition with unilateral, brief episodes (a few seconds to a few minutes) of intense, sharp, and stabbing pain. The trigeminal nerve attaches to the brain, and has three branches that extend to the lower, middle, and upper part of the face. More than one nerve branch can be affected by the disorder. Medication, nerve blocks, and injections may help relieve pain.
How Does a Nerve Block Help Pain?
By injecting a numbing substance in or around a nerve or the spine, the pain signal between the nerve and the brain is interrupted, therefore causing the sensation of pain to be reduced or eliminated. A nerve block may be used to:
- Determine the source of pain
- Treat painful conditions
- Predict how pain will respond to long-term treatments
- Relieve pain in the short-term after a surgery or other type of procedures
If drugs or other treatments do not help control chronic pain or cause side effects, a nerve block can be effective in controlling pain. A local anesthetic may be used to perform a test block. If pain relief is experienced, the nerve block can be repeated or the nerve can be ablated (thermally or chemically) depending on the location.