Trigeminal neuralgia (TN)

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic pain condition characterised by brief, shock-like pains in one or more divisions of the trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve V). It is a progressive, relapse-remitting disease and so frequency, intensity and duration of these painful attacks gradually increase and often becomes resistant to medication. The pain is often unilateral, stabbing, paroxysmal, and excruciating. The condition is exacerbated by normal activities of daily living, including speaking, chewing, smiling, cold or hot fluid intake, physical touch, exposure to cold air, and teeth brushing.

Because of this, TN is a serious public health issue severely affecting the quality of life of its sufferers and can cause distressing psychological health issues, such as anxiety and depression. The incidence of TN is between 4 and 27 per 100,000 annually, and typically affects women more than men.

Acupuncture and TN

Western medical acupuncture has come into favour with Doctors and Physiotherapists due its pain relieving capabilities. The acupuncture-induced analgesic effect has been cultivated in order to alleviate various chronic pain conditions. A recent meta-analysis of individual patient data from 20,827 patients participating in 39 trials showed that acupuncture is effective for controlling chronic pain and that treatment effects persist over time.

As well an immediate analgesic effect due to the DNIC pathway, acupuncture has been shown to reduce pain levels via inhibition of the pain signals in the central nervous system. These analgesic effects have been endure days after treatment, thus resulting in prolonged pain relief.

With the progressive nature of TN in mind, acupuncture, in combination with medication and appropriate cognitive therapy may be considered as a possible treatment modality for people suffering from TN. A study comparing the effectiveness of carbamazepine alone versus carbamazepine with acupuncture was recently conducted. A total of 22 out of 40 patients in the carbamazepine group achieved full remission of symptoms. A total of 30 out of 40 patients achieved full remission in the acupuncture group. This yields a 55% remission rate for carbamazepine and 70% for acupuncture. Thus, acupuncture combined with the medication elicited a higher total effectiveness rate than carbamazepine alone. The total effective rate includes all patient improvements ranging from mild to resolved. Carbamazepine achieved an 87.50% total effective rate and acupuncture achieved a 95% total effective rate.

What to bring to your first consultation

Please bring copies of any specialist reports as well as a list of current medication

What to expect from your first session

A thorough assessment of your pain presentation will be carried out.

Fine, sterile,single-use filament needles will be inserted into specific points in your face and body.

You can expect a dull discomfort upon insertion, though this settles quickly.

Your physiotherapist will stay with you so that if you feel uncomfortable at any time the needles can be removed.

At Faces Physio we are passionate about addressing the underlying causes of your symptoms. We understand the distress that can be caused by this condition. Should onward referral be necessary we liaise with GPs, ENTs, Neurologists, Clinical Psychologists etc in order to facilitate appropriate care for all of our clients.

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate in contacting us.