Trigeminal Nerve Block

Description

Trigeminal nerve block is a procedure that involves the injection of local anesthetic into the trigeminal nerve to alleviate facial pain due to trigeminal neuralgia, shingles, and other facial pain syndromes. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for providing sensation to the face, as well as various facial muscular functions such as chewing. The nerve branches into three divisions that supply sensation to the forehead, cheek, and lower jaw.

A trigeminal nerve block is performed as follows:

  1. The patients lies face down
  2. The skin is prepped at the entry point with an antiseptic
  3. The physician uses X-ray guidance to place a needle at the intended target area
  4. A local anesthetic and a steroid (cortisone) are administered in close proximity to the nerve
  5. The local anesthetic blocks pain signals to the brain while the steroid reduces inflammation
  6. The needle is removed, the area is bandaged, and the patient is monitored for a short period of time

After the procedure, patients may report immediate pain relief. However, the pain may return a few hours later as the anesthetic wears off. Long term pain relief begins in two to three days, once the steroid takes effect. A series of injections is often performed to enhance the extent and duration of pain relief.

Indications

Patients suffering from the following conditions may benefit from a trigeminal nerve block:

  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Shingles affecting the face
  • Other atypical facial pain syndromes