Trigeminal neuralgia is an ongoing pain condition which affects certain nerves in your face. Patients who have this condition say the pain feels like an electric shock, and it can sometimes be intense. Symptoms include short periods of shooting pain on your cheek, jaw, gum, and teeth. It is often affected on only one side of your face. It can be aggravated by brushing your teeth, washing your face, shaving or putting on make-up. It usually lasts for a few seconds to several minutes and happens several times a day or week.
“Classic” trigeminal neuralgia occurs when the pain is sudden and intense. If your pain is less intense but constant, you might have what’s known as “atypical” trigeminal neuralgia.
Trigeminal neuralgia is caused by varied factors such as the pressure of a blood vessel on the nerve, an injured nerve by a surgery, an accident or a stroke. Some diseases can cause this problem as well, namely, multiple sclerosis and tumors.
Existing medical and surgical therapies are moderately effective in many cases, but for a considerable number of patients, these are less than satisfactory. These problem therapies are fraught with failure to respond, considerable side effects of the medications, complications of surgery, and postoperative reoccurrence.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture has shown to be effective in treating patients with trigeminal neuralgia. Dr. Chaudhuri et al. in Missouri constructed a study on 17 patients with classic trigeminal neuralgia. These participants did not respond to conventional therapies.
The results demonstrated that five out of 17 patients after receiving acupuncture as a treatment stopped taking all medications for trigeminal neuralgia. All of the patients’ pain was relieved. Also, there were no side effects from acupuncture observed. In brief, acupuncture has proven to be helpful in the majority of patients who partook in the study.
- Tapan K. Chaudhuri and Abhisek Ray. Effect of Acupuncture in Trigeminal Neuralgia. Medical Acupuncture. December 2008, Vol. 20, No. 4: 231-237.