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What’s Worse than Trigeminal Neuralgia? Not Knowing Acupuncture Can Help, That’s What!

I read this article (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1241888/Imagine-excruciating-pain-human-experience-.html) about trigeminal neuralgia and one quotation from the article just made my face cringe.

Okay for those who didn’t quite get the pun, trigeminal neuralgia is the funny doctor term for “very very very painful facial… pain”.

Dr Anish Bahra, consultant neurologist at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, says:

“Acupuncture and nutritional therapy are often tried by patients but there is no evidence to support the use of alternative medicine.”

Let’s hear that again.  She says there is “no” evidence.

As in none, nada, zip.

Therefore, all I have to do is to show ONE bit of evidence.  Just one.

And here it is, courtesy of acupuncture.com (http://www.acupuncture.com/research/face5.htm)

Practical Application of Meridian Acupuncture Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia
By Beppu S; Sato Y; Amemiya Y; Tode I.

Anesthesia and Pain Control in Dentistry, 1992 Spring, 1(2):103-8.
(UI: 93005964)

Abstract: This report evaluates the effect of meridian acupuncture treatment on trigeminal neuralgia. Ten patients aged 26 to 67 years (mean 55.4 years) who visited the outpatient Dental Anesthesiology Clinic at Tsurumi University Dental Hospital from 1985 to 1990 were studied. Five of the patients suffered from idiopathic and five from symptomatic trigeminal neuralgia. The patients underwent meridian treatment by acupuncture alone or acupuncture combined with moxibustion. The acupuncture method used was primarily basic treatment employing only needles without electrical stimulation. Meridian acupuncture treatments were repeated from two to four times a month.

Five patients were restored to a pain-free state. The other five patients noted a decrease in pain, but with some level of pain remaining (significant pain in one patient). It is concluded that meridian acupuncture treatment is useful and can be one therapeutic approach in the management of trigeminal neuralgia.

No evidence, says Dr. Bahra?  Or is this part of Big Pharma’s campaign to discredit acupuncture in the UK, as it is elsewhere?

Oh, not convinced? Let’s look at more evidence!

Effect of Acupuncture in Trigeminal Neuralgia (Tapan K. Chaudhuri, Abhisek Ray. Medical Acupuncture. December 2008, 20(4): 231-237. doi:10.1089/acu.2008.0640. )


Background: Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an extremely painful and difficult condition to treat. Existing medical and surgical therapies are moderately effective in many cases, but for a considerable number of patients, these are less than satisfactory and are fraught with failure to respond, considerable side effects of the medications, complications of surgery, and postoperative relapses. Acupuncture has a long-standing reputation of being helpful in various pain syndromes and reportedly has been effective in TN.

Objective: To describe the experience of using acupuncture in a series of patients with TN that did not respond to conventional therapies.

Design, Setting, and Patients: A series of 17 consecutive patients who were referred through July 2007 with the diagnosis of TN to a solo practice of internal medicine and acupuncture in Kansas City, Missouri.

Intervention: A series of 30-minute treatment sessions consisted of the following: Dispersion of LR 3, MH 6, TH 5, GB 34 with stimulation of LI 4 and ST 36 (2 Hz), and simultaneous stimulation (30 Hz) of the facial points including ST 2, ST 3, LI 20, SI 18, and SI 19. If the supraorbital branch was involved, BL 2 was included. A gold semi-permanent needle was inserted in the trigeminal point of the ipsilateral ear.

Main Outcome Measure: Relief of pain following acupuncture.

Results: Of the 17 patients, 2 did not have classic TN. Three patients did not return after the second treatment. These patients were excluded from this series. Of the remaining 12 patients with classic TN, 4 of 5 men and all 7 women responded with markedly decreased visual analog scale scores (VAS; from mean [SD], 8.75 [1.02] to 1.95 [2.84]; P < .001). Five patients (1 man and 4 women) stayed in complete remission, which has lasted 11–15 months following their last acupuncture treatment. These 5 patients stopped taking all medications for TN. The remainder of the patients have continued to receive acupuncture on an as-necessary basis (mean [SD], 31.65 [18.26] days) for the maintenance of pain relief and no resistance to therapy has developed, with the longest follow-up being 18 months. The patients who had a history of multiple operations and procedures also had a good response. No adverse effects were observed.

Conclusions: Acupuncture produced beneficial effects in the majority of patients in this series. Acupuncture should be considered as a safe therapeutic option in patients with TN, especially before invasive intervention is done.

Note that this article is from 2008.

From China’s Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science.

Treatment of 32 cases of primary trigeminal neuralgia by acupuncture plus moxibustion with warming needle on Xiaguan (ST 7)

Han Zhao-cheng 1
(1)      Acupuncture Department, Hospital Affiliated to Shandong University of TCM, Jinan, 250011, P. R. China

Received: 7 May 2007
Summary  The main acupoints of Acupuncture therapy were Xiaguan (ST 7), Sanjian (LI 3), Xiangu (ST 43), Zulinqi (GB 41), Sanyinjiao (SP 6) and Taixi (KI 3). Moxibustion with warming needle on Xiaguan (ST 7), reduction method on Sanjian (LI 3) on the unaffected side and Xiangu (ST 43) and Zulinqi (GB 41) on the affected side, reinforcement method on Sanyinjiao (SP 6) and Taixi (KI 3) on the affected side were given. Moreover, according to the affected area, the local acupoints were added, Yangbai (GB 14) for the opthalmic branch, Quanliao (SI 18) for the maxillary branch and Jiache (ST 6) for the mandibular branch. Among 32 cases, after 24 acupuncture treatments, 4 cases were cured, 19 cases got marked effectiveness, 7 cases was improved and 2 cases had no effectiveness.

Really really major duh.

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  1. January 29th, 2010 at 19:19 | #1

    Informative post.

  2. Sandie J.
    May 1st, 2011 at 07:14 | #2

    My husband suffers from severe TN. I would love to hear from anyone who has had these treatments, and how well they have worked for them. Seeing what it does to my husband, I would LOVE to find some true help for him other than all the medications he has to take; getting no real relief.

  3. July 20th, 2011 at 19:21 | #3

    Hi Sandie, I used some device developed in Israel. I helped me a lot, the pain is almost gone. Try it. And good luck to your husband.

  4. Cynthia Webb
    July 22nd, 2011 at 13:23 | #4

    Kelly, what device are you referring to? I desperately need to know. Are there any other relief options? I take Tegratol and Neurontin. Not much help. HORRIBLE PAIN< EVERY DAY. Thanks, Cindy

  5. D martin
    August 12th, 2011 at 21:57 | #5

    I have a friend that got a lot of relief from gamma knife treatment given at Holy Spirit Hospital, Camp Hill, Pa.

  6. Ed
    November 2nd, 2011 at 23:07 | #6

    I have TN and I am being treated with Gabapentin ( with no side effects ) and acupunture.
    I started with weekly acupuncture for three weeks. The pain went completely away for about 6 months. When the pain returns , I go get an acupuncture treatment or two and have always gone pain free for a period of 6 weeks to 3 months. I do not stop taking the medication when I am pain free, but I do lower the dosage by about one third.

  7. acadian
    March 12th, 2012 at 16:05 | #7

    I am 65 yr female with MS and Osteo. I am treated with Gabapentin and I am so afraid to lower my dosage and do not know at what point to lower it incase the TN is not in remissions. TN is so painful and triggers symptoms of MS. I have just started to read about TN and acupuncture, does anyone out there have MS as well and has tried this procedure? Please help, thank you!!

  8. acadian
    March 12th, 2012 at 23:27 | #8

    What device are you referring to Kelly? I am the lady that wrote that I have MS, Osteoporosis and forgot to mention that the Gabapentin that I am taking is for TN and not MS or Osteoporosis. Kelly please help regarding the device developed in Israel, the TN pain is just unbearable and triggers my MS…thank you!!

  9. william
    March 30th, 2012 at 07:21 | #9

    does acupuncture teatments work after you have 2 invasive intervevtion surgerys 1st. ballon compression and 2nd. gamma nife ?

  10. SteveK
    May 25th, 2012 at 01:04 | #10

    Israeli developed ultrasound technology for TN pain relief!

    My wife was just diagnosed with TN, so I immediately did what I do best…started combing the internet for knowledge. As my wife has a strong aversion to drugs in general, and some of the stuff recommended seems pretty nasty…it was a given that my research would gravitate to “other” non-invasive therapies. Check out the blurb and link below. I have no first hand knowledge about this…yet.

    “PainShield treatment to replace drugs and surgical intervention

    The PainShield is a low frequency, low intensity therapeutic ultrasound device that has shown, in several studies, to reduce pain and help nerve recovery. Unlike conventional bulk wave ultrasound, the PainShield’s unique frequency and intensity allow for long treatment sessions that are much more effective than the conventional products.
    Treatment can take place anytime and anywhere even during overnight sleep.”


    Since I know our local physiotherapy clinic uses ultrasound therapy to stimulate healing for various “issues”, I am going to ask them if they have any experience in using it for TN…and even if not, if they would be willing to give it a shot. This might be a good tryout before investing in the nanvibronix home unit.

    Would love to hear if anyone has real experience with this already.

    Best wishes for speedy relief to one and all!

  11. christina beach
    August 28th, 2012 at 06:52 | #11

    I ready your above post questing if anyone had tried acupuncture with MS. DId you end up trying it and if so, what are your results?

  1. September 13th, 2014 at 20:01 | #1

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