Botox for trigeminal neuralgia
Botox injections relieve pain of trigeminal neuralgia, according to a new study just published in Cephalalgia, a leading headache journal. Trigeminal neuralgia is an extremely painful condition which manifests itself by intense electric shock-like pain on one side of the face. The pain is triggered by speaking, chewing and often without any provocation. Persistent pain can lead to malnutrition from the inability to chew and to severe depression and despondency. Epilepsy drugs, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), and other types of drugs often relieve the pain, but not always and at times the drugs can cause intolerable side effects.
Research on the mechanism of action of Botox has shown that it may be blocking sensory nerves and this led me to try Botox for a few of my patients with conditions other than chronic migraines and other headaches. Several patients with post-herpetic neuralgia (shingles) and a few with trigeminal neuralgia responded very well.
This rigorous double-blind, placebo-controlled study in Cephalalgia by Chinese researchers involved 42 patents with trigeminal neuralgia, of whom 40 completed the study. Among the patients who received Botox injections, 68% had significant improvement compared to only 15% of responders in the group tht received placebo. This study strongly suggests that Botox is an effective treatment for some patients with trigeminal neuralgia. The advantage of Botox is that it has significantly fewer side effects than oral drugs.