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On Friday, the Blink-182 drummer, 47, took to X to share with fans that he suffered three health issues last week.
In a post that has been viewed more than 330,000 times on the platform, which used to be called Twitter, he shared that he had a COVID-19 infection, a root canal as well as an "episode" of trigeminal neuralgia.
"I can pretty much handle anything god throws at me," the musician quipped in his post.
But exactly is trigeminal neuralgia? Read on to learn more about the rare disorder.
Also last week I had covid, an episode of trigeminal neuralgia, and a root canal. Which means I can pretty much handle anything god throws at me.
— Travis Barker (@travisbarker) September 29, 2023
What is trigeminal neuralgia?
According to the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association of Canada, this debilitating disorder brings episodes of intense, stabbing, electric-shock-like pain. Typically, the pain occurs on one side of the face, usually in the cheek, mouth, gum or teeth area.
It can also be called tic douloureux, and around five out of every 100,000 people — or 1,500 — will be diagnosed with the disorder each year in Canada. In the United States, it's considered a rare disease.
What causes trigeminal neuralgia?
Trigeminal neuralgia is often triggered by touching certain parts of the face or mouth, according to Migraine Canada. Actions like talking, chewing, shaving or anything else involving the face or mouth can trigger the disorder, along with cold wind, cold food or chilled drinks.
The Multiple Sclerosis Trust shares that when someone has both MS and trigeminal neuralgia, it's often because there is damage to the myelin sheath around the trigeminal nerve, leaving it highly sensitive. If someone has the disorder but doesn't have MS, it's likely because a blood vessel is pressing on the trigeminal nerve inside the skull.
Who's at risk of getting trigeminal neuralgia?
Women are more likely than men to develop trigeminal neuralgia, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It's more common in adults older than age 50, and it usually doesn't run in families.
What are the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia?
There are a few symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, all of which are contained to the cheek or jaw area:
Numbness and/or a tingling sensation
Short bursts of severe pain
Regular aches and pains
Short-term jolts of pain that feel stabbing or electric
Spontaneous episodes following actions like chewing or talking
A burning sensation all over one side of the face
How is trigeminal neuralgia treated?
While trigeminal neuralgia isn't preventable, there are medications and surgeries that can help treat the syndrome. Mayo Clinic states treatment usually begins with medications, and most people don't require additional treatment. But if a person stops responding to medications prescribed by their physician, then injections or surgery is usually the next step.
Anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine, is usually prescribed, and it's shown to be effective in treating trigeminal neuralgia. Muscle-relaxing agents, such as baclofen, may also be used for treatment, along with Botox injections to help lessen pain.
In terms of surgery, a person might go under microvascular decompression, which is a procedure involving relocation or removal of blood vessels in contact with the trigeminal root. While this procedure can help reduce pain for a number of years, pain usually recurs by 10 years in three out of 10 people.
Brain stereotactic radiosurgery, also called Gamma Knife radiosurgery, is another surgical option for treating trigeminal neralgia. In this procedure, a surgeon directs a focused dose of radiation to the root of the trigeminal nerve. Recurrence of pain often takes place within three to five years, but this procedure can be repeated.