Trigeminal neuralgia

BMJ Clin Evid. 2014 Oct 6:2014:1207.


Introduction: Trigeminal neuralgia is a sudden, unilateral, brief, stabbing, recurrent pain in the distribution of one or more branches of the fifth cranial nerve. Pain occurs in paroxysms, which can last from a few seconds to several minutes. The frequency of the paroxysms ranges from a few to hundreds of attacks a day. Periods of remission can last for months to years, but tend to shorten over time. The condition can impair activities of daily living and lead to depression.

Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of ongoing treatments in people with trigeminal neuralgia? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to September 2013 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Results: We found seven studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.

Conclusions: In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: baclofen; carbamazepine; gabapentin; lamotrigine; oxcarbazepine; microvascular decompression; and destructive neurosurgical techniques (radiofrequency thermocoagulation, glycerol rhizolysis, balloon compression, and stereotactic radiosurgery).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neurosurgery*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / surgery*


  • Anticonvulsants