‘On this International Day of Yoga, we turn our focus towards a topic that often goes unnoticed – the potential role of yoga in managing Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN). Trigeminal Neuralgia, known for causing some of the most severe pains a human can endure, affects the trigeminal nerve, leading to intense facial pain. Could yoga, a practice celebrated for promoting physical and mental harmony, offer some relief to those living with this condition?’ Aneeta Prem MBE
Trigeminal Neuralgia is a condition characterized by piercing or shock-like facial pain. It can affect anyone, irrespective of age or health status. Traditional treatment options for TN range from anticonvulsant drugs to surgical procedures. However, these treatments can bring about their own set of challenges and side effects.
Yoga, a practice dating back thousands of years, is increasingly recognized in modern medicine for its potential to manage a variety of health conditions. Yoga’s focus on deep breathing, gentle movements, and mindfulness can help individuals develop better pain management strategies.
While direct research linking yoga with TN is limited, studies illustrating yoga’s benefits for pain management in general exist. A study published in 2020 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) demonstrated that yoga can assist with managing various chronic pain conditions 1. Additionally, a 2017 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that yoga could reduce the impact of migraines, a neurological condition that also involves nerve pain 2.
Here are five gentle yoga practices that could potentially help individuals living with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Always remember to consult with a healthcare provider or a trained yoga instructor before starting any new practice.
Yoga techniques like Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing) promote calmness and reduce stress, which may lessen the perception of pain.
Savasana is a deep relaxation technique that reduces muscle tension and encourages a sense of peace.
Simple, gentle neck movements can alleviate tension and improve flexibility.
This restorative pose encourages relaxation and aids pain management by allowing gentle blood flow towards the face and brain.
Mindfulness meditation, a central aspect of yoga, can help one become more aware of their body and pain sensations, potentially aiding in better pain management.
The child’s Pose is a gentle resting pose that helps release tension in the back, shoulders, and neck. It promotes relaxation and can provide relief from facial pain associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Cat-Cow Pose is a dynamic movement that involves alternating between arching the back (cat pose) and extending it (cow pose). This practice helps increase spinal flexibility and releases tension in the neck and upper back.
Forward Fold is a calming pose that stretches the entire back body, including the neck and shoulders. It promotes blood circulation and relaxation, potentially reducing facial pain.
Seated Spinal Twist is a gentle twisting pose that releases tension in the spine and stimulates the digestive system. It may alleviate discomfort in the face and jaw associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Legs-up-the-Wall Pose, as mentioned earlier, is a restorative pose that allows gentle blood flow towards the face and brain. It promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and can provide relief from facial pain.
Remember, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider or a trained yoga instructor before attempting any new yoga practice. They can guide you with modifications and ensure that the practices are suitable for your specific condition.
On this International Day of Yoga, let’s remember that yoga is more than just exercise—it’s a practice that promotes mind-body harmony, which may offer a source of comfort for those living with conditions like Trigeminal Neuralgia. While yoga can provide many benefits, it is not a substitute for traditional medical treatment of conditions like Trigeminal Neuralgia. Always listen to your body and never push into poses or practices that cause discomfort.