Botulinum Toxin Eases Intense Facial Pain

Researchers found patients symptom-free after 30 days

MONDAY, Oct. 24, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Botulinum toxin, already used to treat migraines and eye spasms, may also help reduce intense facial pain called trigeminal neuralgia, says a study in the Oct. 25 issue of Neurology.

People with trigeminal neuralgia suffer sudden, severe pain in one side of the jaw or cheek. The pain lasts several seconds and can be repeated in a series of attacks, which can be triggered by normal actions such as talking, swallowing or brushing teeth.

Currently, anticonvulsant medication is the main form of treatment, and surgery is also an option.

In this study, American and Brazilian researchers looked at the effects of botulinum toxin type A in 13 people with trigeminal neuralgia. The study found the patients had a significant decrease in pain 10 days after receiving the botulinum toxin injection, and they were almost symptom-free after 20 days.

After 60 days, four of the patients no longer needed medication, and others had cut their medication use by more than 50 percent. There were no major side effects observed in the patients, the researchers said.

"Drugs are not always effective in treating trigeminal neuralgia. Some patients avoid them because of side effects, and then their pain is more intense and longer lasting," Dr. Elcio Juliato Piovesan, a neurologist at the Hospital of Clinics at Federal University of Parana in Curitiba, Brazil, said in a prepared statement.

"A placebo-controlled clinical trial is needed to confirm our findings, including a follow-up period longer than 60 days," Piovesan said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about trigeminal neuralgia.

SOURCE: Neurology, news release, Oct. 24, 2005
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