A DUNDEE mum has told of her anguish after being diagnosed with a condition that is said to be one of the most painful known to man.
Steph-Lynn Forster, 23, says she’d rather give birth 10 times over than go on suffering from trigeminal neuralgia — which sees her get intermittent, but extremely severe, facial pain.
She was told by doctors that she has the condition last week, and is now trying to work out ways of carrying on everyday life.
Charity Trigeminal Neuralgia Association UK describes the condition as “the most painful condition that is known in the medical world”.
Experts believe it’s caused by the pressure on the trigeminal nerve — which is the part of the brainresponsible for sensation in the face — which then begins sending out inappropriate pain signals.
It’s often caused by a damaged blood vessel putting pressure on the nerve.
Steph-Lynn — a mum to Reily, five, Leon, four, and one-year-old Kade — today told the Tele she “never knew how much something like this can affect your entire life”.
She said: “I had been experiencing excruciating pain in my face — it would just come suddenly and I wouldn’t be able to do anything and then it would go away.
“I went to the doctors and was put on antibiotics but they didn’t help.
“The doctors thought that it was maybe an infection in my neck or mouth but the pain was in my cheek.
“When it didn’t improve with the course of antibiotics they realised that it was trigeminal neuralgia.
“The pain was so severe that when I was in my bed I couldn’t even move.
“I was crying with the pain.
“I can’t even describe how intense it was — it is the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life.
“It just comes on suddenly. It could be away for a few hours and then it comes back.
“I have had three children and I can honestly say I would rather give birth 10 times over than experience that pain.”
Steph-Lynn says the condition is starting to affect her living a normal life.
She said: “The pain is one thing but I am now constantly paranoid that it will come on — I have barely left my house because of it.
“It has made me irritable. You need to just bury your head in a pillow, which doesn’t even help.
“The fact that it is in my face makes it even worse.
“I am used to being out and about every day and getting my make-up done and stuff like that — now I can’t even leave the house.
“I had never even heard of it before the doctor told me I had it. I just hope that it isn’t permanent.
“Some people do go into remission, where they don’t get any attacks for a long time — sometimes even years — but it can always come back and it might not ever go into remission.”
While the condition does not have a specific remedy, sufferers can take a variety of medications that dull the nervous system. In extreme cases, they can go through operations, including the opening up of the skull and lifting of a blood vessel away from the nerve.
Another option is internal neurolysis, which involves shaving the nerve so that it is no longer pressured by the blood vessel.
Steph-Lynn says she’s been prescribed gabapentin — which is usually used to treat people with epilepsy. She has to take the medication four times each day and document it in a diary.
She now fears that a prolonged spell of taking the mediation could result in her becoming dependant on others, and is exploring the option of an operation.
She added: “The gabapentin takes the edge off the pain but it is still so painful that I have been having to stay with my mum. She has been helping me look after the kids but I know that I have to find a way to manage this.
“It’s hard to look after the boys when I have taken the gabapentin because it really spaces you out.
“It’s a bit of a nightmare making sure they are OK and trying to keep the pain under control but I am determined to find a way.”