The use of tricyclic antidepressants for the control of chronic orofacial pain

Cranio. 1997 Jan;15(1):53-6. doi: 10.1080/08869634.1997.11745992.


Tricyclic antidepressants, or "tricyclics" as they are commonly called, are effective in reducing pain in chronic neurological and musculoskeletal disorders. Tricyclics appear to be effective in the control of chronic orofacial pain of non-inflammatory origin, and include amitriptyline, doxepin, nortriptyline and desipramine. Daily doses of the medications are smaller for the management of pain than doses typically used in the treatment of depression. Certain medical conditions may contraindicate tricyclic trials, while others may warrant starting at a lower dose with more conservative dose adjustments. Common side effects include dry mouth, sedation, constipation and orthostasis. Tricyclics are just one therapeutic modality which can be considered in the management and treatment of chronic refractory orofacial pain that is suspected to arise from neurogenic or myofascial etiologies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / pharmacology
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / therapeutic use*
  • Contraindications
  • Facial Pain / drug therapy*
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Humans
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome / complications


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Neurotransmitter Uptake Inhibitors