Trigeminal Neuralgia is painful!
“Neuralgia” means pain along a nerve. Nerve pain is particularly challenging because of its intensity.
The trigeminal nerve is a three branched (“tri”) nerve that covers a large area on the side of the face (see image).
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a very painful condition usually affecting one side of the face. Something has irritated the trigeminal nerve, which results in the sensation of pain – this is the perspective from western medicine.
Meridian Massage Approach to Trigeminal Neuralgia
When Qi cannot flow, it backs up, gets stuck, and it stagnates. Wherever Qi stagnates, there is the potential for pain. Meridians are the pathways where Qi flows. There are several meridians on the sides of the face but two, in particular, almost mirror portions of the trigeminal nerve.
- The San Jiao (or Triple Heater) meridian wraps tightly around the ear and then travels to the outer eyebrow (see image below).
- The Gallbladder meridian crosses the sides of the head several times, and also passes close to the outer eye and ear (see image below).
Move the Qi to relieve pain
Since stagnant Qi can give rise to pain, let’s move the Qi to relieve the pain. This is a simple premise that yields great results. By activating a few points on the Gallbladder and San Jiao meridians, we help move the Qi in order to relieve the pain.
Acupoints to relieve trigeminal neuralgia
There are many points on the face that can be used. Below are a few to get you started:
- San Jiao (SJ) 21, SJ 22, and SJ 23
- Gallbladder (GB) 1, GB 2, GB 7, GB 14, GB 20
How to massage acupoints
Make very light contact with these points, especially when there is pain.
Ask the person you are working with to tell you how much pressure feels comfortable to them. It is likely that the amount of pressure that is best will vary from point to point, so keep asking for feedback.
With the soft part of your finger or thumb on the point, think about gently sinking into the point. I find that “sinking into a points” creates more comfortable contact for my client than “pushing pressure” into points. Because there is so much pain and sensitivity with trigeminal neuralgia, making gentle contact is of the utmost importance.
For more about working with acupoints, here is a previous post: “How to Apply Pressure to Acupoints.”
Move the Qi
We are assuming that the pain is coming from Qi that is not moving through the meridians. Therefore, the intention of our contact with the acupoints is to help get the Qi moving again; maintain this intention while contacting the points. If it is comfortable to your client add tiny, gentle, circular motions in order to help move the Qi.