Trigeminal Neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that effects the fifth cranial nerves- meaning those who suffer from it feel the pain in their faces. There are two types of TN, TN1, or Type 1 is the “classic” form of the disorder. This causes extreme sudden burning or shock-like facial pain that can last from a few seconds to two minutes per episode. These episodes can happen in a quick succession and last up to two hours. The “atypical” form, TN2, or Type 2, is when the person undergoes a constant burning, stabbing pain, or aching that is of lower intensity than of Type 1. One person can have both types of Trigeminal Neuralgia, and sometimes concurrently. The intensity of the pain can be both mentally and physically incapacitating.
TN generally affects people over the age of 50, although it can occur at any age, including at just a few months old. In young adults, the possibility of TN being caused my multiple sclerosis increases. An approximation of 12 per 100,000 people per year are diagnosed with TN, and it is more common in women than in men.
There are a variety of different triggers that may set off the pain of TN that includes actions such as shaving, touching your face, eating/chewing, drinking, brushing your teeth, applying make-up, talking, washing your face, smiling, or even simply encountering a breeze.
Because there is no known cure for TN, finding a treatment option that may even simply reduce your symptoms can help improve your day to day life. And luckily, acupuncture has shown to reduce the pain that TN causes.
A study published in the HealthCMi (Healthcare Medicine Institute) in July 2015 proved that acupuncture was more effective than carbamazepine in treating Trigeminal Neuralgia. Carbamazepine is an FDA approved drug used for the treatment of TN.
In this study, 22 out of 40 patients in the carbamazepine fully group recovered (a 55% cure rate), while 30 out of 40 patients fully recovered in the acupuncture group (a 70% cure rate).
Acupuncture showed to have a higher total effective rate that carbamepine, with the ‘total effective rate’ including all patient improvements ranging from mild improvement to completely cured of all symptoms. Carbamazepine showed an 87.5% total effective rate, while the acupuncture group achieved a 95% total effective rate.
The study was comprised of 80 individuals, with 40 in each group. Each group had 16-18 males, and 22-24 females, all ranging from 45-69 years of age with an average symptom duration of 9-10 years. Before their treatments, each person underwent a full physical examination including a head CT scan. Each individual had similar symptoms that included difficulties with speaking and eating, advanced facial pain and face muscle cramping.
Besides being more effective than carbamazepine, acupuncture is all-natural and will not have any side-effects, unlike carbamazepine. So if you’re ready to smile and not have to worry if you’ll be in pain from it, give acupuncture a shot- and then you’ll really have something to smile about!