Trigeminal neuralgia is a severe facial pain disorder following the distribution of cranial nerve V. The pain feels in most cases sharp, stabbing, excruciating and unilateral. The condition is aggravated by daily activities including speaking, chewing, smiling, cold or hot fluid intake, physical touch, exposure to cold air and it is most commonly related with stress.
Carbamazepine is an FDA approved anticonvulsant drug used for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia and is also used for controlling seizures in epileptic patients.
There is an increasing number of studies that is trying to investigate which is more effective: carbamazepine, acupuncture or combination of carbamazepine with acupuncture.
The ability of acupuncture to successfully control pain has been reported in the past and it seems to be able to control trigeminal neuralgia pain as well. Both carbamazepine and acupuncture on their own seem to have a good cure rate (22 out of 40 patients recovered with carbamazepine and 30 out of 40 patients recovered in the acupuncture group) (Kepeng C and Long T, 2015).
Acupuncture was found clinically more effective than carbamazepine but based on Kim J et al. findings (2018), implementing Traditional Chinese Medicine in combination with a pharmaceutical protocol for patients with trigeminal neuralgia will maximally increase the benefits and minimize pain in those patients.