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'It's easier to say we have Salman's disease'

After the recent disclosure that the Bollywood actor is undergoing treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia, MiD DAY spoke to two other patients of this painful, but lesser known, nerve disorder

By disclosing that he has been suffering from Trigeminal Neuralgia a rare nerve disorder that causes intense pain to the facial nerves and muscles Salman Khan has unwittingly helped create awareness about the little known condition.

 
Jude Britto and Ashok Sentil (L) have a rare nerve disorder

MiD DAY decided to speak to two others who were afflicted by the disease, and experienced the agonising ordeal of crippling pain, bewilderment, delayed diagnosis, and finally, cure.

53-year-old Ashok Sentali, general manger at the Shipping Corporation of India, was diagnosed with the condition a few months back.

He said, "Nobody knew of the disease till it was disclosed that Salman suffers from it. It has now become easier to explain my medical condition to people, as I can tell them 'mujhey Salman wali bimari hai,'(I have the same disorder that afflicts Salman)."

Sentali, who is presently on medication, said, "The magnitude of the pain cannot be explained in words. The bursts of pain last for a few seconds at a time, but leave you shaken for hours."

55-year-old Jude Britto first felt searing pain in his lower jaw in January last year.

Initially attributing the agony to a newly emerging wisdom tooth, he made the rounds of dentists' chambers for the next nine months, in search of a diagnosis.

He recollected, "I could not utter more a few words at a time, or even chew my food. I had to be put on a liquid diet when the pain became intolerable.

Even the slightest exertion of my facial muscles would result in utter agony. I had teeth extracted, went for root canal procedures, but the pain did not subside. Finally a dentist suggested that the pain could be stemming from a nerve disorder," said Britto.

Doctors put him on pain medication, which helped to keep the excruciating pain at bay.
 
It was only in July that Britto decided to undergo micro-vascular decompression (MVD) surgery, in which the trigeminal nerve was separated from the offending artery, which was pressing down upon it, causing the pain. He has been living a pain-free existence ever since.
 
He said, "If only my condition had been diagnosed earlier, I would not have had to endure such agony for one-and-a-half years."

Expertspeak
Dr Milind Sankhe, neurosurgeon at Hinduja hospital, said, "In order to give the patient relief from pain, the offending blood vessel has to be separated from the trigeminal nerve, with the use of some artificial material. The pain disappears after surgery."

Dr Atul Goel, head of the Neurosurgery department, KEM hospital, said, "The press has reported that surgery for the condition is not offered in India, as a result of which the actor had to seek treatment in foreign shores.
 
This is not true. Most neurosurgeons in the city operate regularly on patients suffering from the condition."

Dr D P Mazumdar, neurosurgeon at SL Raheja Fortis hospital, said, "The incidence of neuralgia is rare, and 90 per cent of the cases are controlled by drugs. The sure-fire cure is through surgery, which has a 95 per cent success rate."

Symptoms
> The patient will experience very sharp and painful spasms, which may last from a few seconds to several minutes.

> Pain is usually experienced on one side of the face � the most commonly afflicted areas are the around the eyes, cheeks, and jaws.

> Pain may be triggered off by touch or sounds. The spasms may also be set off by everyday activities, such as brushing teeth, chewing, drinking, eating, and shaving.

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