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Understanding and Treating Trigeminal Neuralgia with Acupuncture



Trigeminal Neuralgia is a chronic condition characterized by severe, electric shock-like pain on one side of the face. Triggered by tactile stimuli within the so-called trigger zones of the trigeminal nerve, the pain is felt within the nerve's distribution area. It can be primary, with an unclear cause, or secondary. While primary trigeminal neuralgia tends to initially resolve spontaneously, this becomes less common as the condition progresses. Due to the lack of effective and non-invasive treatments in conventional medicine, the sole or combined use of acupuncture in treating this condition is gaining attention in the academic field.


Conventional medical treatments include antiepileptic drugs, trigeminal ganglion nerve blocks or destructive procedures, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, and microvascular decompression surgery; however, these methods often yield less than ideal clinical outcomes. Acupuncture, particularly meridian acupuncture, has proven to be an effective alternative.


Although symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia can typically be controlled effectively with acupuncture, the condition has a tendency to recur. Nonetheless, acupuncture remains effective during these relapses. During acupuncture or electroacupuncture treatment, patients may occasionally experience a temporary intensification of pain, especially after direct stimulation of the nerve trunk or points. According to the principle of counter-therapy, treatment should continue despite this exacerbation, but with adjustments such as changing the stimulation site, reducing intensity, or extending intervals between treatments. Generally, the pain gradually lessens and comes under control.


Acupuncture's approach to trigeminal neuralgia highlights its potential as a complementary or alternative treatment, especially considering the limitations and invasiveness of conventional medical treatments. The ability of acupuncture to provide relief, coupled with its non-invasive nature, makes it a valuable option for those seeking alternative or supplementary treatments for this painful and often debilitating condition.

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