Based in Oxted, The Trigeminal Neuralgia Association UK (TNA UK) is a national charity providing information, support, and encouragement to those who suffer with, Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN).
The charity was founded 19 years ago by one of the world’s leading Trigeminal Neuralgia experts, Professor Joanna Zakrzewska together with a patient of the condition. The charity’s aim is to raise awareness of TN within the medical community and the general public.
Most people have not heard of TN until they or a loved one are diagnosed with it. The trigeminal nerve, the largest nerve in the head, is the fifth cranial nerve and its primary function is to send pain messages to the brain. TN is an intermittent facial pain condition, often affecting one side of the face only, caused by the malfunctioning of one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve.
People with TN may experience excruciating, electric shock like pains following the lightest touch to a trigger area of the face and these pains can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Any facial movement such as eating, drinking, talking or cleaning teeth can be a trigger to these pains. There is no cure for TN, although it may go into remission for months or even years, over time, these periods of relief tend to become shorter.
Prescribing medication and surgical intervention are pain management options for patients with the condition and can be very successful at improving the pain, but there is always a chance the pain may reappear in time. There are also side effects to both options. Coping with such an unpredictable and severely painful condition is very challenging and it is easy to understand why people with the condition may feel isolated. This is where TNA UK comes in.
TNA UK provides a wealth of accurate and up to date information with telephone and email helplines and a quarterly newsletter.
The charity also provides help to members who decide to run a local support group. Members and their families express appreciation of the help given by the team at TNA UK and say that the support and information offered have improved their quality of life enormously. It is, understandably, a substantial comfort to people with TN to be able to talk to others who have experienced the same type of pain and to be able to access specific information whenever they need it.
The charity also makes continual efforts to educate medical professionals about the condition. The charity’s website has a dedicated area for healthcare professionals. Professor Zakrzewska and members of the Executive Committee frequently speak at medical conferences and write articles about the condition for publication in professional journals, to raise more awareness.
With the research that is being undertaken worldwide, it is hoped that more effective treatments will emerge so that Trigeminal Neuralgia will become less of a burden to the people that it strikes.
TNA UK is a charity run by a team of volunteers, most of whom are TN sufferers, and receive no Government or corporate funding. It relies on membership subscriptions and donations from members and the general public.
For more information about the charity, visit: www.tna.org.uk
By Georgia Lambert