Acupuncture can reduce pain and medication use in patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (ITN). In a longitudinal case-control study, Brazilian researchers compared 30 healthy subjects with 60 ITN patients, who were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture or drug treatment (carbamazepine). Patients in the acupuncture group underwent 10 weekly sessions of verum acupuncture. Needles were applied at Hegu 4 L.I.-4, Sanjian L.I.-3 and Neiting ST-44 for all patients, plus other points according to the trigeminal nerve branch affected in each individual (ophthalmic branch – Cuanzhu BL-2, Yangbai GB-14 and Yuyao M-HN-6; maxillary branch – Sibai ST-2, Juliao ST-3 and Quanliao Sl-18; mandibular branch – Jiache ST-6, Xiaguan ST-7 and Taiyang M-HN-9). Sham acupuncture involved superficial needling at the same points. Mean pain intensity decreased in the acupuncture group only, while patients in the sham group required an increase in carbamazepine. There was a reduction in secondary myofascial pain and mandibular limitation in both acupuncture and sham groups, however only the acupuncture group maintained these improvements at six-month follow up. The authors conclude that real acupuncture benefits both the primary and secondary causes of pain (neuropathic and myofascial) in ITN.
Acupuncture treatment for idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia: A longitudinal case-control double blinded study. Chin J Integr Med. 2017 Nov;23(11):829-836.