Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an uncommon but debilitating head pain condition stemming from irritation or inflammation of the trigeminal nerve in your upper spine.

Conventional treatments include anti-inflammatory meds and pain blockers, but upper cervical chiropractic may treat the underlying cause of TN.

Dr. Ty Carzoli is the best chiropractor in Colorado for trigeminal neuralgia. Schedule an appointment with Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractor today! We reserve Fridays for traveling patients.

Effective Treatments for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Also called tic douloureux, trigeminal neuralgia can be treated by precise chiropractic care, targeted medication, and surgery (in severe cases). Lifestyle changes may be implemented to prevent flare-ups or reduce your risk of worsening TN overall.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Upper cervical chiropractic focuses on the upper two vertebrae of the spine: the atlas (C1) and the axis (C2). Reducing spinal cord tension and aligning these upper vertebrae in your neck helps with all sorts of chronic pain syndromes, including trigeminal neuralgia pain management.

Chiropractic care may reduce inflammation directly or indirectly impacting the trigeminal nerve. Take the pressure off the nerve, and pain relief will follow. Chiropractic can resolve face and neck pain while giving you back your quality of life.

New patients welcome! Schedule your appointment with Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic today. You can also call us at 303-955-8270.

If upper cervical chiropractic doesn’t resolve your issue, we can refer you to a surgeon — although this is a last resort, since surgery severs nerves instead of addressing the root cause.


The anticonvulsant medication, carbamazepine, is the conventional first-line treatment for TN, despite its side effects and danger to individuals of Asian descent.

Anti-inflammatories can help lower inflammation that may cause trigeminal irritation. These meds come with adverse side effects like indigestion, headaches, and birth defects in the kidneys. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may lose their efficacy over time.

Opioids can reduce your pain symptoms, although these potentially addictive drugs don’t address the underlying cause of your trigeminal pain.

Botox injections can dull the facial pain, although this medical injection is not a treatment option that addresses the root cause.

Lifestyle Changes

Certain lifestyle changes can prevent trigeminal neuralgia flare-ups, such as not touching your face. Any sensation against your face can cause TN pain.

Simple lifestyle changes to avoid triggering neuralgic pain include:

  • Learn which side of your mouth to chew on. 
  • Practice gently brushing your teeth. 
  • Avoid being outside on windy days.

You can also adhere to an anti-inflammatory diet, which may reduce irritation of the trigeminal nerve. Avoid processed foods and extra-hot foods, but eat plenty of healthy fats and leafy greens.

Did you know that most chiropractors give dietary advice to support their clients’ holistic health? Talk to your chiropractor about the healthiest diet for your unique situation.


There are multiple surgical treatments which help reduce your trigeminal neuralgia pain. Most surgical interventions sever the nerve to prevent pain signals from reaching your brain, but the underlying cause of trigeminal dysfunction is left unaddressed.

Trigeminal neuralgia surgeries include:

  • Microvascular decompression — A neurosurgeon relocates or removes blood vessels that may be irritating the trigeminal nerve. Potential side effects include facial numbness, reduced hearing, or a stroke in rare cases.
  • Rhizotomy — This surgery destroys trigeminal nerve fibers to prevent pain signals. It can be achieved via a glycerol injection into your trigeminal nerve, balloon compression of the nerve, or radiofrequency ablation at the point where the nerve enters the brainstem.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery — This outpatient surgical option requires no cuts or anesthesia. Also called gamma knife radiation, it uses gamma rays to damage the trigeminal nerve, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain.
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation — A surgeon places electrodes along the peripheral nerves (not the trigeminal nerve) to regulate pain signals.

What causes trigeminal neuralgia?

The root cause of trigeminal neuralgia is irritation or inflammation of the trigeminal nerve — the fifth cranial nerve and the largest of the twelve. 

There are several factors that may cause irritation or inflammation of the trigeminal nerve:

  • Spinal misalignment compressing the nerve
  • Blood vessel abnormalities
  • Tumor pressing into the nerve
  • Severe systemic inflammation
  • Surgery injury
  • Facial injury
  • Neck injury
  • Brain lesion
  • Stroke

The following activities cause trigeminal neuralgia flare-ups:

  • Touching your face
  • Face injury
  • Eating, drinking
  • Speaking
  • Smiling
  • Brushing your teeth, flossing
  • Washing your face
  • Strong wind against your cheek

Diagnosing Trigeminal Neuralgia

Your doctor will diagnose your trigeminal neuralgia with a physical examination, a medical history, and ruling out other conditions. In some cases, imaging tests like an MRI may be used.

The physical examination may include pressing against parts of your face to identify the origin of your pain.

Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history, family history, and the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. 

What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia? Here are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia that your doctor may look for:

  • Severe, stabbing pain on one side of the face
  • Numbness, burning, or tingling around the cheek or jaw
  • Sudden pain after chewing, talking, smiling, or touching your face
  • Pain duration of a few seconds to several minutes

Below are the common conditions which a doctor may rule out to help diagnose trigeminal neuralgia:

If you’re looking for a medical professional to diagnose your trigeminal neuralgia without questioning your own experiences, Dr. Ty Carzoli of Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic listens to and respects his patients.


Trigeminal neuralgia flare-ups typically last up to 2 minutes. In severe cases, episodes of trigeminal neuralgia pain may last for hours, days, weeks, or months. TN may go into remission, disappearing completely for months or years.

An inflamed trigeminal nerve may repair itself with time, but it’s wise to seek medical attention. Chiropractic care may address the underlying cause of TN pain with pain-free spine adjustments. Pharmaceuticals or even surgery may be necessary to deaden the pain in rare cases.

If left untreated, trigeminal neuralgia may get progressively worse, with attacks lasting longer and feeling more painful. Medication will likely be less effective as trigeminal neuralgia worsens.

Stress can aggravate trigeminal neuralgia although it isn’t a direct cause. Chronic stress contributes to systemic inflammation, which may impact your trigeminal nerve health. Stress has been associated with both blocking pain and worsening pain.

An anti-inflammatory diet should decrease your risk of trigeminal nerve pain. On an anti-inflammatory diet plan, eat leafy greens, fatty fish, nuts, tomatoes, and fruits that are high in antioxidants.

Here are some inflammatory foods that you should avoid to prevent trigeminal pain:

  • Spicy foods
  • Added sugar
  • Saturated fats
  • Processed foods
  • Caffeine (found in coffee, soda, chocolate, etc.)

The trigeminal nerve is the 5th cranial nerve. Divided into 3 primary branches, its main function is sensing pain, touch, and temperature on your face. It is the largest of the 12 cranial nerves.

Requiring no cuts or anesthetic, stereotactic radiosurgery is a pretty new surgery that deliberately damages the trigeminal nerve.

Instead of deadening the pain by severing nerves, consider chiropractic care to treat the underlying cause without surgery. More and more people like you are discovering chiropractic care for trigeminal neuralgia treatment.

Schedule your appointment with Denver Upper Cervical Chiropractic today!