What is the Neuralgia?
Neuralgia is a disorder which results in severe, spasmodic pain along a nerve or group of nerves. The pain is often described as sharp and shooting, and in more severe cases, neuralgia is so debilitating and agonizing that it affects the quality of a person’s life. It may affect anyone, but older people tend to be more susceptible to it.
Types of Neuralgia
There are various types of neuralgia such as trigeminal, postherpetic, occipital and glossopharyngeal:
Trigeminal neuralgia is also known as tic douloureux and is one of the most common types of neuralgia. It affects one side of the face only causing brief but excruciating pain along the trigeminal nerve, which supplies sensation to the face, cheeks and jaw. This type of neuralgia may be caused by Multiple Sclerosis or tumors pressing against the nerve, but the causes are generally unknown. The pain may be so agonizing that spasms of the facial muscles (tic) are caused. It lasts between 30 minutes and an hour, and the facial pain occurs at the same time on successive days. Everyday activities such as brushing your teeth, washing your face or eating can trigger pain. Women over the age of 50 years are most commonly affected.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a severe and unbearable pain experienced after an attack of Shingles (herpes infection) has disappeared. The affected area is extremely sensitive to any form of touch and pain is felt immediately. Postherpetic neuralgia occurs anywhere on the body, typically where the Shingles rash occurred. The pain may continue for a few months or even years. Infectious diseases that may also cause neuralgia include syphilis and Lyme disease.
Occipital neuralgia occurs as a result of the spasms of pain to the front, back and sides of the head. It may be caused by a pinched nerve, compression of nerves in the spinal column, whiplash or sometimes even diabetes or gout. When tense muscles or ligaments presses against the nerve, irritation, inflammation and pain may occur. This pain is dull, throbbing, tingling and causes numbness. It affects the back of the head, occasionally the forehead.
Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is characterized by intense pain occurring along the glossopharyngeal nerve. Pain occurs spontaneously and is felt in the back of the throat, tonsils, (link to tonsillitis) tongue and occasionally the ears. This pain is usually triggered by talking, yawning, chewing or swallowing.