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Acupuncture in the Management of Trigeminal Neuralgia

Edwards, James; Shaw, Vivien


James Edwards


Aims To assess the standing of acupuncture as a clinical tool in the management of trigeminal neuralgia against the current first-line drug and the most effective surgery.

Methods Data regarding efficacy, side effects, and cost were compiled for each of the three modalities from the PubMed and Cochrane Library databases. Patient stress was estimated according to Holmes and Rahe’s Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS).

Results Acupuncture is significantly more effective than its corresponding control (p = 0.088), but had the greatest efficacy (mean ± 95% confidence interval) of the modalities considered (86.5% ± 5.6% compared to surgery (79.3% ± 7.7%) and pharmacotherapy (71.7% ± 2.5%), respectively). Acupuncture also had fewer mean reported side effects (22.7% ± 5.9%) compared with surgery (25.3% ± 12.6%) and pharmacotherapy (88.8% ± 25.0%), and the lowest cost; after 5 years, the cost of acupuncture was estimated to be £750, compared to £1507.73 for carbamazepine and £4878.42 for MVD. Acupuncture was the least stressful according to the SRRS (53 points), whereas surgery was second most stressful (153 points) and pharmacotherapy was the most stressful intervention to patients (217 points).

Acupuncture appears more effective than pharmacotherapy or surgery. Statistical analysis of side effects was not possible due to inconsistent reporting protocols, but the data suggest that acupuncture is considerably safer than pharmacotherapy or surgery. Acupuncture also appears to be the least expensive therapeutic modality to deliver long-term (65 weeks onwards), and our analysis indicated that it was less stressful to patients than pharmacotherapy or surgery. Further study into these areas and the practicality of its availability in the UK National Health Service (NHS) and other health systems is recommended.


Edwards, J., & Shaw, V. (2021). Acupuncture in the Management of Trigeminal Neuralgia. Acupuncture in Medicine, 39(3), 192-199.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 20, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2020
Publication Date Jun 1, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 22, 2021
Publicly Available Date Apr 20, 2022
Journal Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society
Print ISSN 0964-5284
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 3
Pages 192-199
Keywords Acupuncture; Anaesthetics; Complementary medicine; Internal medicine; Neurological pain; Neurology; Pain management
Public URL
Related Public URLs


Accepted manuscript (416 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2020 British Medical Acupuncture Society.

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