Trigeminal Neuralgia is commonly known as Suicide Disease because it causes painful nervous sensations in the head. At their most desperate moments, they are pushed to think about the unthinkable to free themselves from their suffering. Dr. Jeff Scott, a Blair upper cervical doctor at Montclair Upper Cervical, joins Dr. Kevin Pecca to talk about the primary causes of this dreadful disease, which are usually little habits that accumulate over time. Dr. Kevin explains how Trigeminal Neuralgia can be carefully treated through upper cervical care and chiropractic methods. He also discusses Occipital Neuralgia, another type of Neuralgia that runs around the back of the skull and results in an equally painful experience.
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Solutions For Trigeminal Neuralgia And Occipital Neuralgia With Dr. Jeff Scott
Welcome, everyone, to another episode of the show. We are located on TikTok @DrKevinPecca, Instagram @DrKevinPecca, and Facebook at Montclair Upper Cervical. If you have any questions or comments about the show, you can email us directly at MontclairUpperCervical@Gmail.com.
This is a very important episode. We are going to go over trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia. Trigeminal neuralgia is one of the most painful conditions I've ever seen any human being suffer with. It is so painful. It is known as the suicide disease because it's almost unbearable to live with. We invite Dr. Jeff Scott to the show. Dr. Jeff is the other Blair Upper Cervical doctor in my practice at Montclair Upper Cervical. We dive deep into what causes trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia, and solutions on how to resolve them. Please welcome Dr. Jeff Scott to the show.
Welcome, everyone, to another episode of the show. We have a very important episode. One of my favorite conditions to talk about are trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia. People are suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. It's one of the most painful conditions I have ever seen any human being suffering with it. It affects one side of the face with burning and stabbing electric shock pain. Some people can't even go outside when the wind blows. It's too much. When COVID was going on and they had to wear masks, sometimes just touching the face would be too painful.
It's also known as the suicide disease because it's an incredibly painful condition. Most people are left with no answers. Dr. Jeff and I are very excited to do this episode. If you need more information about the topic, we would be happy to help. We see many trigeminal cases in our practice. Upper Cervical care works tremendously with this condition. We're going to go over how. Without further ado, Dr. Jeff, how are you?
I'm good. It's beautiful up here in New Jersey.
Jeff, we're going to jump into trigeminal neuralgia. We have seen a lot of this condition in our practice. What causes trigeminal neuralgia? Where does it start? What might be the primary cause of somebody suffering from this condition?
For those who aren't familiar with it, you have two trigeminal nerves, also known as cranial nerve number five. You have one on the left side and one on the right side. The sensory nucleus where the nerve fibers originate is in your brain stem around the area of the pons. It comes out along and hits a little bit of ganglia just right by your temple area, and then it splits out.
Those who are watching this on video can pretty much see it here. I'll demonstrate it with my fingers. For those who are reading this, I'm taking my 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers, and splitting them. One is above my eye, one is below my eye, and one is going down towards my mouth. Those are the three branches of the trigeminal nerve. When someone has trigeminal neuralgia, they can get sensations in one of those areas. They can get a sensation in all of those areas. It all depends on what fibers and what branches of the nerve are being irritated.
From what we have seen, neuralgia in general is going to be a stabbing, sharp, and severe pain. Trigeminal neuralgia can get up to that electric-type burning on the face. We’re looking at a bunch of data and statistics, and it has shown that there's some compression going on to the nerve. As with any nerve in the body, the more pressure it has on it, the more it's compressed, and the more it's being irritated. You can eventually have this gradual demyelination process.
It would be like going outside and cutting the wires from your telephone pole across the street. If you were to gradually over time strip away the outer black coating, and then start stripping away at the coding around the wires themselves, those wires are eventually not going to work as well as they could because they can't send the signals as efficiently.
In terms of what also can cause the trigeminal nerve to become inflamed and irritated in producing these symptoms, a lot of it seems to point back to some trauma. I was looking at one study. They said that if you sustained concussive trauma to the head, the neck, or the upper back area, that's going to affect the nerve fibers in the spinal cord and the brain stem. There's that disruption of those neural pathways.
Most people don't realize we've got not only the spinal cord and the nerves that come off of itself or the nerves coming off the brain stem. You and I can both know the spinal tracks run all the way up at different levels in the cord, controlling different things. If those neural pathways have been affected and damaged as a result of trauma, that can lead to the onset of trigeminal neuralgia symptoms.
It's easier for most people to understand if I'm in a car accident, if I have a whiplash injury, if I hit my head on something, if something drops on my head, if I have a fall or a break in something, people can comprehend that. What people don't also comprehend is the little things. If you're sitting with your head extended towards your computer for hours on end and days, it's a mild trauma. The cumulative effect will over time lead to these similar effects as that of a one-time acute trauma.
It's the same thing with high levels of stress. If you're continually taking that energy, putting it into your body, and burning through the resources that stress and anxiety cause, it's going to overtime manifest in that same thing. It can still lead to the effects of these nerves coming on. Trauma is the umbrella, and then you branch it down from there.
It could also be a mild or major childhood trauma like getting pulled out of the birth canal too hard. Most times, we see in our office that symptoms don't present themselves until months or many years later. A lot of our patients say, "I woke up with this condition one day. I don't know how it happened." We do a very detailed history. It says, "I was climbing a tree. I fell out of the tree when I was five years old and banged my head." That could have been the start of it. It's little things that accumulate over our lifetimes one way or another.
Dr. Jeff and I have yet to check a grown adult that has been in alignment. Pretty much everybody is walking around with some type of upper neck misalignment. We have checked a couple of kids that have been in alignment but mostly, everybody is walking around with some type of misalignment in their upper neck. The way that presents in their body is different for everybody. It doesn't mean if you have an upper neck misalignment that you're going to have trigeminal neuralgia. You could have low back pain or neck pain. You could get migraines. You could have trigeminal neuralgia. Pain presents differently in each person.
I like to tell patients this. I know you're along the same lines. With the upper cervical misalignment, there are the same types of misalignments that can be had across the population. Everybody's life experiences are different. The traumas, the way your body functions, your genetics, and all these little variables mean different people can experience different things based on their life experiences.
Dr. Jeff, you brought up something important before the show started. We have seen a few of these in the last few months, which is dental work. It could be wisdom teeth removal. When you are getting a lot of dental work, especially heavy dental work, root canals, crowns, and wisdom teeth pulled out, your neck is put back. Your jaw is open for hours at a time. That puts an incredible amount of pressure on the neck. We had one patient that got her wisdom teeth removed. There's anesthesia involved. She was out. She woke up and she had some type of trigeminal neuralgia over the next couple of weeks. You mentioned that before.
That's the same thing. If you visualize it, most people have sat in a dental chair. Dental technology has gotten better over the years, but it's the same thing. It's the same sensory area that I showed you where the trigeminal nerve goes to. You're putting your neck in a slightly compromised position for an extended period. If you're having a crown put in, a tooth removed or other major surgery, the reality is you're sustaining a trauma. Surgery of any kind is a trauma to the body.
You're sustaining a trauma. Your body is reacting to that trauma. If your trigeminal nerve is getting irritated, if the vasculature to the nerve is getting compressed for any reason because of the position, or we go back even further, if you already have misalignments in the neck, and now you're putting more pressure on the cord and the brain stem, and potentially adding pressure to where that nucleus is in the pons, you're opening the door. Depending on the health of the nerve, you could trigger something. They could push the nerve above its pain threshold or symptom threshold. You start getting these burning sensations.
Unfortunately, a lot of people find upper cervical care as their last stop. A lot of people do exhaust the pharmaceutical route or even some surgeries that I have not seen to be successful. Jeff, you saw something about pharmaceutical drugs and trigeminal neuralgia too before.
The one resource I like to use when we're looking at this stuff is The 5-Minute Clinical Consult, which has volumes and volumes of statistical analysis from multiple doctors of different cases or different disorders. It's incredibly thorough. Under the trigeminal neuralgia one, they said about 50% to 60% of people will eventually fail pharmacological treatment. From what you and I have seen, it makes sense because most likely, in pharmacological treatment, the goal is they're trying to get the nerve to calm down.
They're trying to limit the number of episodes. The problem is if you're taking a drug to try to control the symptoms, that's great, especially if you need it. We don't want people walking around with burning in the face, but if there is this nerve compression or this neural interference because there's a structural issue in the neck, then it makes sense why eventually the drugs are going to fail. It’s because you're not going back and saying, "What are the underlying causes?" You can have multiple misalignments. If you don't fix those, it's going to persist.
It makes sense because what happens when you take drugs is most of the time, your body begins to adapt. As your body can heal and adapt, your body will adapt to the chemicals that you're putting into it. Eventually, what happens? You start at a certain dosage. Maybe it works for a time, and then you have to go up and go up. Eventually, you're on so high of a dose. It's not working because your body is now adapting to this exogenous substance being put into yourself. It's regulating all the pathways to accommodate that because it's not its normal baseline.
Unfortunately, most of those drugs do have side effects that come along with them. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, you do not need any more side effects in your life. That one electric shock pain going on in your face is dominating your life. You could have upwards of 5 to 10 other symptoms from taking the pharmaceutical drug that you don't need to add on top of your list. You're already suffering.
There are also some surgeries that will try to cut the nerve. Some people will get an electric stimulator to stimulate the trigeminal nerve implanted in their skull behind their ears. I haven't seen that to be effective either. It's a very invasive procedure. First and foremost, I would go after the root cause and try to get the pressure off of that nerve. Dr. Jeff, how does upper cervical care work so well with trigeminal neuralgia? How do we fix it?
That's the beauty of the upper cervical approach. It’s the same process for vestibular issues or with post-concussion. You go in and the doctor does thorough analysis and finds out where the nerve interference is occurring and what levels in the neck are in the neural pathway being impacted. Upper cervical docs do different approaches, but we like to do the 3D X-rays. It gives us incredibly accurate and comprehensive results in terms of not only allowing us to parse out every little individual thing but also then see the totality of the cervical spine, the head, and all the facet joints in relation to one another. It gives us an incredibly accurate idea of what is going on with the neck.
I'm sure BJ would love it. It would probably be his favorite thing. We're able to figure out exactly structurally how all these bones in the neck are positioned. We take the data then from the neurological light check. We know now what areas are being interfered with structurally, and what the areas at that level above and below also look like. It gives us a compilation of the data. We're able to go in and say, "We know what areas need to start getting fixed." The goal here is to restore the joints to their proper articulation as efficiently and accurately as possible. That's going to remove the dysfunction.
For those who are familiar with it, it's going to remove these subluxation complex, which is going to get rid of the movement to function at the joint. It's going to help improve the vasculature. It's going to decrease neural interference. It's going to improve tissue function in that area. It's going to remove any inflammation. As that joint capsule gets healthier, the connective tissue and all those nerves and tissues in that area begin to heal. That's going to improve the function of the area and the nervous system. As things have a chance to decompensate, symptoms get better and better.
With upper cervical care across the board, the main goal is to have that one adjustment stay in place for as long as possible. The longer that adjustment can hold in place, the more pressure you're able to take off the nerve day by week by month. The nerves can regenerate and heal. Some people get relief almost immediately. For others, it can take a couple of weeks to a month as the nerves can take 120 days to regenerate, but if this area stays clear, you will heal. Your symptoms will get better over time.
We have been seeing a lot of trigeminal neural cases. When they do get better, people are crying tears of joy. Their spouses and families are so incredibly thankful because this is one condition that not only is affecting the person living with it, but it's affecting the whole family. The whole family dynamic changes when you have somebody suffering from trigeminal neuralgia. It's a beautiful thing to see these people get better.
If you are suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, first and foremost, we do recommend the Blair chiropractic technique. You can locate a doctor near you at BlairChiropractic.com. If there are no Blair chiropractors, you can go to UpperCervicalCare.com. There are about 7 or 8 different upper cervical techniques that you can try that work well with resolving trigeminal neuralgia. One other condition we wanted to talk about was occipital neuralgia, which is a different type of neuralgia running around the back of the skull. Dr. Jeff, what do we know about that?
Occipital neuralgia involves the greater occipital nerves. That's right at that the suboccipital area. For those who don't know the anatomy, the occiput is the name of the bone that makes the back of your skull. Sub means below it. Most of the time, for anyone that has had a headache or tension at the base of your skull, if you were to slightly press in that area, those are your suboccipital muscles.
It's a very unique anatomical area because you're taking the first bone of your neck, Atlas, which looks like a ring. You have a triangle of fine muscles that make up your suboccipital musculature. They help maintain stability, function, and articulation of Atlas and the occiput relative to each other so your head is not wobbling around like crazy.
You have nerves in that area because pretty much, you have nerves that help to control and coordinate every part of your body. You have nerves there. It's the same idea as trigeminal neuralgia, where you've probably sustained some trauma, big trauma, little trauma or birth trauma, all the way up to a car accident, depending on the person and based on how the trauma affected the person's body. It causes this compression or this irritation of the greater occipital nerves.
It's the same thing with trigeminal neuralgia. You get this burning-hot electric type of sensation around the base of your skull here. The muscles are going to get naturally irritated in that area. They can become tight and spastic. Not only are you getting those symptoms. You probably are getting some gnarly headaches maybe even manifesting as migraines.
It's the same process. It's figuring out where is this interference. It means that you could take someone who has trigeminal neuralgia and take someone who has suboccipital neuralgia. They could have the same misalignment. It's affecting two different parts of their bodies, but it's the same process. It's figuring out where is the interference, what everything looks like structurally, and what the doctor needs to do to put everything back in place, and then allow those things to heal.
A lot of people who are suffering from occipital neuralgia are usually putting their hands right on it. They're like, "Something is going on right here. It's tight." Some people can feel like something is sticking out in that area right there. That's usually what their misalignment is. We usually pop that right back down. You get the nerve flow functioning properly. You see that resolved very nicely too.
For anyone suffering from these neuralgias, another take-home message is doing little things day to day to let the nerves heal. You have to let the nerves heal. It's the same thing we have talked about with other ones. You also have to be a little bit mindful of what you're doing outside of your time in the office because the doc is going to give you his best.
We do it with most of our cases. You might see us looking at doing the checks and maybe looking at the X-rays in the office but afterward, we're like, "Are we missing something? What can we do? Is there anything that we're seeing?" Let's check different levels and make sure we're giving the patient our best. It's doing little things outside of not sitting in bad positions, not doing crazy exercises, and giving the nerves a chance to heal. As you do that, you're going to get better.
Upper cervical care is great. There are ways to heal faster. Along with that, what you put into your body is huge. One of the biggest things to stay away from is processed sugar. That's one of the biggest inflammatory causes you can put into your body. Stay away from fried foods. We work with a very good naturopathic doctor, Dr. Julia Britz. She can do blood tests and bioresonance tests to see what your body is deficient in. That does speed up the healing process.
There are a bunch of different avenues you can take to take control back of your life and your health and get better. The upper cervical is great. It could get you 100%, 95% or 90% better. There are different things you can do like diet and exercise. Water is huge. Don't be drinking tap water. Bottled water can lead to a lot of microplastics. Be aware of everything you're putting into your body. That will make a difference in you healing up faster.
Getting back to the original message, you have to figure out what's going on in the body. Upper cervical care is for patients who are suffering from these neuralgias. You have to check the structure. A big message to get out there to the general public is whatever doctor you're seeing, whether it's an MD, a DO, a PT, or another chiro, they're giving you their best. We're going to go based on a flat assumption.
They're doing the best they can based on their training, their education, and their knowledge. Even in going to a surgeon, a surgeon is going to say, "I know how to do surgery. Based on the repetitive things that I've seen, I can fix this with surgery." We always like to say, "No one is trained to look at these millimeters of misalignments at these joints in the upper cervical area."
Before you go and do anything crazy, most times patients are coming to us as a last resort. They have been through the gauntlet but if you're seeing this, you're experiencing these symptoms, and you haven't run through the gauntlet yet, check out a local upper cervical doctor. Find one that you can get to. We do the Blair method.
There are Blair docs all over the country and all over the world, but get to an upper cervical doctor and give your body the chance to heal because if you get that ball rolling, you probably are going to save yourself a lot of headaches and frustration, and you're going to be able to start addressing things at the source. I'm going to wager you're probably going to take care of a couple of other things that are being masked because the neuralgia is so intense.
Surgery is an interesting topic that we can probably go over in another episode. Just in the past years, sometimes surgery is warranted. I'm not against surgery. Sometimes it's one of the best things you can do, but it should be one of your last options. We had one patient come in that said he needed surgery around C3 or C4. The surgeon told him, "The disc space is completely gone. It's not there."
We took our 3D X-rays and showed him the disc space is fully intact, "You need to get a second opinion on this because that was false information." Whenever surgery comes up out of a doctor's mouth, you should get at least 2 or maybe 3 second opinions because one guy wants to operate while the other guy says there's no need to.
I believe that happened. The second guy said, "We can't promise that there's not enough there to work." When in doubt, a second opinion across the board is always valid. I like to think of it as more information for you. You're gathering information for you to make the best decision.
Everybody, thank you so much for reading this. I am Dr. Kevin Pecca. This is Dr. Jeff Scott. We are located at Montclair Upper Cervical in West Orange, New Jersey. Appointments can be made on our website, MontclairUpperCervical.com. If you want us to cover a different topic, please leave them in the comments. We are trying to do one of these episodes a week to help you out. We appreciate the sport. Thank you so much. Dr. Jeff, any last thoughts, words, or comments?
As we usually say, if you need to reach us, my Instagram is @DrJrScott. That's on TikTok as well. Kevin, you have your social media platform if people need to reach you as well. If you see these episodes and have questions, you can reach us there if you don't want to call the office or have other questions.
- @DrKevinPecca - Dr. Kevin Pecca
- @DrKevinPecca - Dr. Kevin Pecca
- Montclair Upper Cervical - Facebook
- Amazon - The 5-Minute Clinical Consult
- @DrJrScott - Dr. Jeff Scott
- TikTok - Dr. Jeff Scott
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