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Successful treatment of severe trigeminal neuralgia pain by acupuncture

A 66-year-old woman was referred with a typical trigeminal neuralgia (TN) pain on the left side of her face for 25 years. She was diagnosed with TN after evaluation and work-up by a neurologist. She used medications, including phenytoin (200 mg per day) and carbamazepine (600 mg per day). The pain was triggered by speaking, eating or touching. The pain was evaluated using a visual analog scale (VAS), which ranged from 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain imaginable). The patient rated her pain as “worst pain imaginable”. She had experienced no beneficial effects from several therapeutic methods, including medication (carbamazepine, gabapentin and valproic acid), nerve block and radiofrequency rhizotomy of the infraorbital branch of the trigeminal nerve.

Acupuncture treatment was initiated without making any change to her drug regime. Acupuncture needles (0.20 x 13 mm needles for the face and 0.25 x 25 mm needles for the other regions) were inserted on the typical areas that are used for trigeminal neuralgia. For facial neuralgia, the protocol utilized local points of TH 17 and 21, GB2, SI 18, ST 2, 3 and 7, GV 26 and LI 20; systemic points included TH 5, LI 4, ST 36, ST 44, ST 45 and LIV 3. Auricular acupuncture points were also used. Every treatment session lasted about forty-five minutes, three times a week. After the fourth session, she reported that she had been relieved almost pain free. By the sixth week (14 sessions), the patient was completely free of pain (VAS=0) and was still pain free at the end of sixth month.

The original report can be found here.

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