Defining the role for gabapentin in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia: a retrospective study

J Pain. 2002 Apr;3(2):137-42. doi: 10.1054/jpai.2002.122944.


The preferred treatment for trigeminal neuralgia consists of antiepileptic drugs. Among them, gabapentin has shown promise in relieving some forms of neuropathic pain. This retrospective review examined 194 consecutive cases of trigeminal neuralgia, many of whom had paroxysmal facial pain resistant to previous surgical interventions or treatment with multiple medications. Of the 92 who had received a trial of gabapentin, 43 reported reduction in facial pain. This benefit was complete in 16, nearly complete in 9, moderate in 12, and partial in 6. Onset of pain relief occurred generally within 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the rate and end point of dose titration. The effective range of stable daily dosing varied from 100 to 2400 mg divided 3 times a day, with a mean of 930 mg. Pain relief was sustained in two thirds during a mean follow-up time of 8 months. The fact that gabapentin was well-tolerated and without serious side effects is an important advantage when prescribing for elderly patients. The present study suggests that gabapentin can be effective as first or second line treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, even in cases resistant to traditional treatment modalities.