Chiropractor Chandler AZ

Trigeminal Neuralgia TX with Cold Laser & Nonsurgical Conservative Therapy

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic, painful condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. You may also hear this condition called "tic douloureux."

If you have trigeminal neuralgia, mild stimulation of the face may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain. You may experience short, mild attacks; however, trigeminal neuralgia may progress and cause longer, more-frequent bouts of searing pain.

This can be brought on by things such as brushing your teeth or shaving. It is often described as an electric shock or stabbing. Most people with trigeminal neuralgia symptoms in cycles – the pain comes and goes for days or weeks. In some cases, it can be progressive, and the pain is always present. It can also be aggravated by stress.

Mapping the Nerves in Your Face

The trigeminal nerves are among one of 12 pairs of cranial nerves. One nerve runs down each side of your face and allows you to feel sensations in your face.

Each trigeminal nerve is split into three branches, which control the feeling of different parts of your face:

  • The ophthalmic branch. Controls your eye, upper eyelid, and forehead.
  • The maxillary branch. Affects your cheek, lower eyelid, nostril, upper lip, and upper gum.
  • The mandibular branch. Runs your lower lip, lower gum, jaw, and some muscles you use for chewing.

Trigeminal neuralgia can affect any of these three nerve branches, which may cause you to feel pain from your forehead to your jaw. Generally, you will feel pain on only one side of your face; however, some people feel it on both sides. When this happens, it is called bilateral trigeminal neuralgia.

Symptoms & Causes of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Pain usually occurs on one side of the face and may be caused by sound or touch. Trigeminal neuralgia symptoms may include:

  • Episodes of shooting or jabbing pain.
  • Spontaneous attacks of pain caused by things such as touching your face, chewing, or brushing teeth.
  • Aching, burning feeling that may occur before it turns into spasm-like pain.
  • Pain in areas of the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, or lips.

In most cases, the cause of trigeminal neuralgia is never found, but known causes include:

  • A swollen blood vessel that puts pressure on the nerve
  • Multiple sclerosis

Although anyone can get trigeminal neuralgia, it is more common among women than men. It is also more common in people over the age of 50, but it can occur at any age.

TMJ vs. Trigeminal Neuralgia

There are several different causes of facial pain, including TMJ. Many patients feel as though their pain comes out of nowhere, and some people with this condition start out thinking they have an abscessed tooth and go to the dentist.

Trigeminal neuralgia and TMJ may cause significant pain or spasm in your jaw muscles, but there are a couple symptoms that signal you have one condition over another.

Symptoms typical of TMJ include:

  • Clicking, crackling, or crunching sensations in your jaw.
  • Locking of your jaw
  • Frequent headaches
  • Neck pain near your ear

Video: TMJ Pain & Treatment with Cold Laser

How Trigeminal Neuralgia Is Diagnosed

Your physician will diagnose trigeminal neuralgia based on your description of the pain, including:

  • Type. Pain related to this condition is sudden, shock-like and brief.
  • Location. The parts of your face that are affected by the pain will tell your physician if the trigeminal nerve is involved.
  • Triggers. Pain is usually brought on by light stimulation of your cheeks.

Your physician may also conduct a neurological examination or MRI to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia and determine underlying causes for your condition. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis because facial pain may be caused by many different conditions.

Treatment Options for Trigeminal Neuralgia

There are several options to treat this condition, including medication and surgery.

Your physician may prescribe certain medications that keep the nerves from reacting to irritation. These drugs are call anticonvulsants. There is also the option to take muscle relaxants. Typical pain medications do not work well for people with trigeminal neuralgia, so your physician may suggest a tricyclic antidepressant to manage symptoms.

If you find your medication helping less and less over time, surgery will be the next option. Many of these procedures are outpatient and some require general anesthesia, which means you won't be awake during surgery.

Trigeminal Neuralgia with Cold Lasers

Cold lasers are a nonsurgical option for treating trigeminal neuralgia. Also known as a low-level laser treatment, cold laser works to reduce inflammation, increase circulation, and stimulate the production of stem cells resulting in the regeneration of the myelin sheath around the nerve. This in turn reduces pain, spasms, and increases natural range of motion and flexibility to the affected area.

cold laser TMJ

Cold laser therapy is administered with a small handheld device close to or touching to skin for 30 seconds to a few minutes. The length of time is determined by the dose and the size of the area being treated.

The light energy passes through the skin and into your tissue, where it will be absorbed. It generally takes more than a single treatment to feel better.

One of the appeals of cold laser therapy is it is painless, noninvasive and doesn't involve potent drugs. There is no preparation necessary, and you can get back to business right away.


Trigeminal neuralgia is a painful condition that is brought on by mild stimulation of the face, such as brushing or shaving. Treatment largely depends on the severity of the condition. If you are looking for a nonsurgical treatment option, consider cold laser therapy.

Learn more about Cold Laser Therapy in our Chandler AZ Clinic. Chiropractic, physical therapy, massage therapy, and Cold Laser Therapy can be used alone or combined to enhance many types of treatments and injuries. Many people with chronic pain find significant relief when combining these treatments.

Alpha Chiropractic and Physical Therapy provides treatment for many patients in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Phoenix, and Maricopa. Most patients have never seen a clinic that combines treatments from different providers into improving your pain. Chiropractic Adjustments are enhanced with physical therapy exercises and stretches.