Trigeminal Neuralgia

Chris Michels, MSPT, JSCC, CACI Chris Michels Physical Therapy
Portland, Oregon


Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is a nerve disorder causing episodes of intense pain in the face. It is more prevalent in women over the age of 50 and usually affects only one side of the face. The trigeminal nerve is a mixed cranial nerve responsible for sensation to the face and supplies motor function needed for chewing. There are several theories as to the cause of (TN) including nerve compression from an enlarged blood vessel following trauma, damage to the nerve following infection, and post herpetic neuralgia following shingles.


The primary system found to be irritated with Trigeminal Neuralgia is the nervous system. This includes the Dura mater or covering of the brain and spinal cord, the cranial nerves especially the Trigeminal and Facial nerves, the peripheral nerves, and the autonomic division of the nervous system including the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. A Fascial Counterstrain diagnosis allows the therapist to accurately locate the primary system that is irritated and which part of the body has become compromised. At times the dysfunction is far away from where a client may be experiencing symptoms. In many cases multiple systems are involved which requires proper treatment sequencing in order for symptoms to completely resolve.


"I started experiencing a sharp stabbing pain, like an electric shock, on the left side of my head. I tried physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture treatments, but they did not help. In Jan. of 2014, I was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia. My trigeminal neuralgia affected my left eye, nose, and forehead. My neurologist tried four different kinds of medications, but I reacted negatively to every one. I was scheduled for Gamma knife surgery the first week of November, however, they said with my type of neuralgia, there was only a 50% chance of gamma knife helping and that it would most likely come back in a year or two. I would be facing surgery every couple of years to keep it at bay. My daughter is a massage therapist and came back from a Fascial Counterstrain class in October and thought I should try getting treated. By then the pain was causing me to have an almost constant twitch or jerk in my head. I saw Chris two weeks before I was scheduled for gamma knife. He worked on me for 3 hours. The zapping pain was reduced and I have not had a twitch since then. I canceled the surgery and saw Chris again 3 weeks later. He took the pain level down from a 9 to a 2-3. I get treated 1-2 times a year when I feel the zapping like pain starting to come back. Thanks to the Fascial Counterstrain treatment, it allows me to live without medications and their side affects or having surgery every couple of years. I am very grateful for this treatment. Pam"