The Journal of Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research published a study on June 23, 2014 that documented the case of a woman suffering from trigeminal neuralgia (TN) who was helped by chiropractic care. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons describes TN as “Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, sometimes is described as the most excruciating pain known to humanity. The pain typically involves the lower face and jaw, although sometimes it affects the area around the nose and above the eye. This intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain is caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which sends branches to the forehead, cheek and lower jaw. It usually is limited to one side of the face.”
The study authors note that medical management of TN usually involves medications possibly followed by surgery. They also report that approximately 50 percent of TN cases managed medically will ultimately have surgery for their condition. The authors point out that the medications commonly used to treat TN have a long and serious list of side effects including double vision, involuntary eye movement, dizziness, extreme fatigue or drowsiness, headaches, involuntary muscle movement, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, skin rashes, and hypertension.
In this case, a 30-year-old woman went to the chiropractor with a chief complaint of left-sided facial pain. She had previously received a diagnosis of TN. She described her condition as the worst pain she had ever experienced, listing it as a 10 out of 10 in severity. She described her pain as dull, aching, and burning down the left side of her jaw and cheek. Additionally, the woman reported that she was also suffering from left-sided neck pain, bilateral shoulder pain, TMJ pain, mid-back pain, and right-sided low back pain.
In her history, the woman reported that her TN started about eight months ago which seemed to be immediately after a visit to the dentist. She had also had a car accident several months prior to the onset of her TN. Some of her medical doctors even suggested that her problem arose from “mental stress onto her from her young son.” This suggestion infuriated the woman.
A chiropractic examination was performed on the woman that included palpation, leg length analysis, and specific spinal x-rays of the upper neck. From these, it was determined that vertebral subluxation was present in the upper neck. The authors explain subluxation and the chiropractic approach by saying, “Chiropractic has one goal: to reduce or eliminate the vertebral subluxation. The vertebral subluxation has been described as follows: Loss of juxtaposition of a vertebra with the one above, the one below, or both. It must consist of occlusion of an opening. Nerve impingement. Interference with the transmission of mental impulses.”
The results of the care reported that the woman experienced less pain from the onset of care. She did experience a flare-up of her TN around her 5th chiropractic visit. However, by her 10th visit the woman reported that she was no longer having any pain.