TRIGEMINAL NERVE BLOCK
The trigeminal nerves supply the front half of the head, including the face, mouth and tongue. They are responsible for biting, chewing and swallowing also producing the sensations we feel on the face. When these nerves are compressed, deteriorate, or get damaged, they can cause pain. Blocking them can help relieve pain symptoms.
A trigeminal nerve block is an injection of local anesthetic that is typically used for patients who are experiencing shock-like electrical pain in the face. These injections are primarily used to treat trigeminal neuralgia; however, patients with facial pain symptoms caused by herpes zoster infection (shingles) or other atypical facial pain syndromes may also find trigeminal nerve blocks to be effective in relieving pain.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE PROCEDURE
For the procedure, the patient will lie on their back on an X-ray table, and the doctor will inject an anesthetic into the side of the face using a thin needle. A separate needle will then be inserted using X-ray guidance, and the steroid pain medication will be injected. There may be a feeling of pressure or tingling as the needle gets close to the nerve.
Trigeminal nerve block injections may be administered around one or more superficial trigeminal nerve branches, depending on the source of the pain. The areas of the face where the patient might receive an injection include the forehead, the area around the eyes, the side of the face, the ear, cheek and chin.
The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes, after which the patient should not drive or perform strenuous activity for 24 hours. They must also arrange a ride home after the procedure. Regular activities, however, can be resumed the next day.
WHAT TO EXPECT AFTER A TRIGEMINAL NERVE BLOCK
The trigeminal nerve block’s effect can last for days or even weeks. How long the pain relief lasts varies from one patient to another. Some people may need several treatments to see desired results, while others may only require two or three.