Dr. Nikesh Seth, 2019’s “Top Doc,” at Integrated Pain Consultants treats all types and causes of nerve pain, including the debilitating trigeminal neuralgia, which is so painful it has been dubbed the “suicide disease.” Annabelle Woods in the UK was working in a pub when she fell through a trap door and suffered the rare type of nerve damage that feels like an ice pick in your head. Woods’ face is also partially paralyzed, a common side effect of the damage.
About one in 10,000 people will get suicide disease in their life, and it’s usually caused by trauma. The nerve damage wasn’t immediately evident after the fall. Instead, Woods noticed that her face felt numb when she was talking to a customer. This numbness came and went, then started to become painful. “I took myself to a doctor as people started to notice my face looking droopy,” she told a local news station.
She was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, along with common co-conditions such as cluster headaches and migraines. It was easy for her doctor to connect the nerve damage to the accident, but such an obvious cause isn’t always available. Some people suffer through suicide disease for years without a correct diagnosis.
Woods’ accident happened in 2005. Like a lot of trigeminal neuralgia patients, her doctor expects that she may also develop multiple sclerosis in the future. Severe nerve damage can sometimes lead to this further, painful condition. It’s been 14 years since the accident, and Woods says the condition has already immobilized her on several occasions.
Trigeminal neuralgia is described by doctors as the most intense pain imaginable, and it comes on quickly as a stabbing pain. It’s also described as an electric shock so severe that it can bring patients to their knees. It lasts a few seconds, but comes on without warning—which has patients always on edge. Woods has collapsed in the street a few times, and relies on pain killers, anesthetic facial patches, and Botox to help with the pain. Still, she says the pain is exhausting, and she sleeps 10 hours a night.
There are alternative pain management solutions to suicide disease that are more effective and safer than pain pills and Botox. Depending on the situation and patient, ketamine infusions and injections are all possible options. To learn more about pain management for trigeminal neuralgia or any type of nerve pain, contact Integrated Pain Consultants.