Saturday, July 13, 2013

Treating Trigeminal Neuralgia

Medication can provide temporary relief from the pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Surgery may be considered for people who experience severe pain despite medication, worsening pain or adverse effects from the medication.

Your Doctor will first prescribe a type of medicine called an anticonvulsant (usually used to treat seizures in epilepsy), which can help relieve pain in your face. These drugs work by slowing down electrical impulses in the nerve and reducing its ability to transmit pain. Normal painkillers such as paracetamol are not effective in treating trigeminal neuralgia.

The anticonvulsant medicine called carbamazepine (see below) is usually the first medication recommended. However, if carbamazepine is not effective, a different anticonvulsant called gabapentin may be used.


Although carbamazepine is usually used to treat epilepsy, it can sometimes be effective in treating trigeminal neuralgia because it lessens the uncontrollable pain signals.

You will usually need to take this medicine one to two times a day to begin with, although some people may need a higher dose.

Carbamazepine can cause side effects which may make it difficult for some people, such as the elderly, to use. Possible side effects are outlined below.

Very common side effects

These side effects have affected more than one in 10 people and include:

  • nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • finding it difficult to control movements
  • a reduced number of infection-fighting white blood cells (leukopenia)
  • changes in liver enzyme levels (enzymes are proteins that speed up any reaction happening in the body)

Less common side effects

These side effects have affected up to one in 10 people and include:

  • increased risk of bruising or bleeding
  • fluid retention (being unable to pass urine)
  • weight gain
  • confusion
  • headache
  • blurred or double vision
  • dry mouth

Uncommon side effects

Uncommon side effects of carbamazepine can include:

  • uncontrollable (involuntary) movements such as tremors
  • abnormal eye movements
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation

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