Gamma Knife Brings Relief for Severe Facial Pain
Before visiting Sang E. Sim, MD, co-director of the Gamma Knife Center and radiation oncologist at Monmouth Medical Center, Barnegat resident Jill Jandris wanted to cry all the time because she was in so much pain. Jill was diagnosed with MS in 1999 and suffered a subsequent broken tooth, causing severe jaw pain. She learned that the pain was actually caused by trigeminal neuralgia – a nerve disorder that causes stabbing or shock-like pain in the face. Jill lived with this pain for eight years, but it continued to worsen despite being prescribed powerful pain medicine.
When Jill found herself skipping meals to avoid the pain of chewing, she knew she had to find a solution. She made an appointment with Dr. Sim at the Gamma Knife Center at Monmouth Medical Center, where she learned about Gamma Knife – a noninvasive procedure that uses stereotactic radiosurgery to direct multiple pinpoint beams of radiation to converge on a targeted abnormality within the brain.
“Dr. Sim and his team made me feel comfortable as they walked me through the procedure and what was going to happen,” said Jill.
According to Dr. Sim, “Treatment options for individuals diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia typically begin with medical management – to hopefully control pain with medications. When medications fail, we offer microvascular decompression surgery or Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Once patients arrive to the Neuroscience Institute at Monmouth Medical Center they are evaluated by a multidisciplinary team where we determine ideal treatment, taking into account their underlying conditions.”
“Before Gamma Knife, I couldn’t eat. I felt like someone was jabbing me with a knife in the jaw, and that stabbing feeling lasted for a week or more. I couldn’t talk at night because of all the medicine I was taking,” she said.
Since her procedure, Jill has been able to gradually decrease the number of medications she takes.
According to Jill, “Now, I barely have any pain. I can eat pleasantly and my life is much better. Wonderful, even. I’m happy.”
“In many cases, like Jill’s, Gamma Knife is a tremendous treatment option. It’s also beneficial for patients who may be at risk for surgery or cardiac surgery,” said Dr. Sim.