Yoga For Trigeminal Neuralgia
IntroductionTrigeminal neuralgia stands for a rare, extremely painful nervous condition affecting the face. This pain felt by the individual is often extremely severe and debilitating, and lasts for a short time. The term trigeminal is the specific name for a nerve originating in the cranium i.e. the top of the face, and divides and runs symmetrically on both sides of the face, with branches connecting the eyelids, the eyes, the cheeks and the nose, and then the upper and finally the lips and the lower jaw. Therefore this condition essentially affects the face. Disorders of the nervous system are extremely painful.
Some or many of the following symptoms may be felt by a person having trigeminal neuralgia:
- An intense shooting pain
- Attacks of pain for hours or even days
- A sensation of burning
- Constant pain in one side of the face
- Pain in lips, jaws and gums
- Pain in eyes and forehead
- Needle or knife like pain which later spreads
- Pain attacks get frequent and more severe with time
Causes And TriggersThe main cause of trigeminal neuralgia is an abnormal trigeminal nerve damaged due to central nervous disorders or pressurized or pinched nerves. Sometimes stroke and trauma relating to facial muscles or nerves can also cause trigeminal neuralgia.
However, various other factors contribute to the aggravation of any condition or its symptoms in an individual. Those could originate from one’s lifestyle or routine or bodily constitution. Such factors are called triggers. The following factors are considered as triggers for trigeminal neuralgia:
- Touching the face
- Chewing gums
- Eating and drinking
- Brushing the teeth
- Applying lotions or makeup
- A cold wind
- Laughing, smiling, frowning or talking
- Washing the face
- Slurping and sipping foods and beverages
DiagnosisA standard diagnostic procedure for trigeminal neuralgia doesn’t exist. Cause of pain can be found out by using imaging and scanning. Sometimes, neurological tests may reveal or confirm trigeminal neuralgia.
ComplicationsComplications include loss of sensation in the face.
TreatmentConventional treatment involves pain relieving strong medications that can have side effects, and surgical suppression of the trigeminal nerve. However, yoga can help ease it.
Yoga For Management of Trigeminal Neuralgia
The practices described here are generally safe for everyone. However, pregnant women and people with multiple conditions should seek guidance from a competent yoga therapist so that they can benefit from these combined practices without complicating any conditions.
Known as the triangle pose, this pose enhances blood circulation and prepares the body for the effects of exercises 4 and 5.
- Stand with the legs wide apart. Raise both arms at the sides of the body parallel to the ground.
- Bend forwards and touch the right foot with the left hand. The torso shall rotate accordingly.
- Perform on the other side similarly.
- Perform 10 rounds.
Known as the tiger pose, this is a dynamic exercise. This shall balance the chemical and physical processes of both the cerebral hemispheres.
- Stand on all fours i.e. kneel and place the palms on the floor.
- Keep the elbows and the knees relaxed but firm.
- Inhale and drop the back to make it a downward curve. Face should be upright.
- Now extend the left arm and the right leg straight and parallel to the ground.
- Exhale and form an upward curve with the back. The face should be down and the chin close to the neck.
- Extend the right arm and the left leg parallel to the ground.
- Repeat each position ten times.
- Relax the neck and the back.
- Lift the palms from the mat.
- Perform thirty rounds.
Padmasana has been used by yogis since ages to enhance functioning of the nervous system.
- Sit with the legs outstretched.
- Place the right foot on the left thigh and place the left foot on the right thigh.
- Keep the spine straight and the whole body relaxed.
- Keep breathing deeply and normally.
- Sit in this pose for as long as you would like to.
Named after lord Shiva, the king of all the dancers, this is an advanced pose and is extremely beneficial for balancing the nervous and physical equilibrium. It is beneficial for all disorders of the nervous system.
- Stand with the feet equally sharing the weight of the body.
- Hold the right big toe with the right hand.
- Raise the left arm in front of the body.
- Simultaneously, pull the toes of the right foot with the right hand.
- Balance the whole body on the left leg.
- Stay in this position for at least 10 seconds.
- Release and perform on the other side.
- It may take some time to balance the whole body on one leg, but it can be perfected with practice.
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama
Also known as alternate nostril breathing, Anuloma Viloma pranayama is an easy practice meant for improving the overall nervous performance.
- Sit with your legs crossed.
- Close your eyes gently.
- The back should be straight and relaxed.
- The wrists should rest on the knees in the default position.
- Put the index finger and the ring finger of the right hand on the forehead on top of the nose.
- Use the thumb to close the right nostril.
- Inhale with the left nostril.
- Close the left nostril with the ring finger.
- Exhale with the right nostril.
- Inhale with the right nostril and close it with the thumb.
- Exhale with the left nostril.
- Practice ten respirations in this way.
- This is one round. Practice three rounds.
This humming bee practice stimulates normal and healthy functioning of the brain and the spinal cord. It is also a great practice for meditation.
- Sit with your legs crossed.
- The spine and the back should be straight and relaxed.
- Close your eyes gently.
- Gently plug both the ears with the thumbs of both hands.
- Put the fingers on each eye.
- Inhale deeply, and with exhalation, make a deep humming sound like a bee.
- Practice thrice.
Adapting a lifestyle that cuts out the physical factors contributing to worsening of any condition multiplies the benefits of a yoga routine by several times. The following tips are extremely beneficial for everyone with any or all symptoms of a disorder relating to the nervous system.
- Quit smoking.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- Consume a balanced diet.
- Consume enough water (8-10 glasses everyday).
- Avoid packed and processed foods.
- Include more healthy fats in your diet.
- Try to reduce consumption of restaurant food.
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Remain physically active throughout the day.
- Do not ignore painful symptoms.
ConclusionThe nervous system is not as physical and external as the musculoskeletal system. It is even minuteer than the digestive system. What is being conveyed here is that the disorders of the nervous system are entirely different from the physical ones. The medications usually taken for nervous disorders are always more potent than any other medications and can have serious side effects that can also be life-threatening. Thankfully, yoga can manage nervous disorders very well and without any side effects, the only requirement is that of continuous supervision of a competent therapist. The practices mentioned here are not beneficial just for trigeminal neuralgia but are great preventive as well as healing practices for achieving mental equilibrium and relieving stress. Individuals practicing just for preventive and relaxative purposes may practice on their own with initial and intermittent guidance from an expert.
Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan
MD (ALT. MEDICINE) View Profile