Salman's disease not so rare

Sep 14, 2011, 07:26 IST | Astha Saxena

Doctors in theĀ Delhi say they keep treating cases of trigeminal neuralgia on a regular basis and it might be a part of the normal ageing process

Many by now would have heard of trigeminal neuralgia, a disease recently diagnosed in the 'Bodyguard' of Bollywood, Salman Khan, only after he flew to the United States (US) for treatment. Doctors in the city say the disorder is quite widespread. In addition to this, Khan was also suffering from aneurysm in the brain. According to city doctors, nearly 3-4 patients facing trigeminal neuralgia visit them every month. The disease causes severe shooting pain on one side of the face.

Double trouble: In addition to trigeminal neuralgia, Salman Khan was
also suffering from aneurysm in the brain. File pic

"I see 3-4 patients every month. Most of them are from middle-eastern countries. Every year, I operate upon 7-8 patients with this nerve disorder," said Dr Sudhir Tyagi, Senior Consultant, Neurosurgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

Treat it right
There are three ways to treat the disorder-oral medication, injection and surgery. Doctors say more than 50 per cent patients are treated with oral medicines. "Medical treatment is to be taken life-long, but once a patient is operated upon, the disorder is cured forever," added Dr Tyagi.

Although no formal survey has been done on the number of patients being treated in India, doctors put the figure close to that in the United Kingdom. According to a random research, around 4-5 people per 100,000 in the United States suffer from the disease, while 20-25 patients per 100,000 in the UK suffer from it. "The disease generally manifests at the age of 25 years. Pain is the single-most prominent symptom. We get at least two patients a week," said Dr S K Chaudhary, Consultant, Neurology, Moolchand Hospital.

The why and how
Trigeminal neuralgia is a nerve disorder that causes a stabbing or electric-shock-like pain in parts of the face. The pain comes from the trigeminal nerve, which carries pain, feeling and other sensations from the brain to the skin of face. It can affect part or all of the face, and eyes.

The condition usually affects older adults, but it may affect anyone at any age. It may be a part of the normal aging process or caused by multiple sclerosis. A swollen blood vessel or tumour can put pressure on the trigeminal nerve, causing the pain. Symptoms include sharp and very painful electric shock-like spasms that usually last a few seconds or minutes, but can become constant. Pain is usually only on one side of the face, often around the eye, cheek, and lower part of the face. It may be triggered by touch or sounds and everyday activities such as brushing teeth, chewing, drinking, eating, touching the face and shaving.

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