What is the efficacy of medical treatments for trigeminal neuralgia (TN)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: Kim J Burchiel, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Over time, the drugs used for the treatment of TN often lose effectiveness as patients experience breakthrough pain. In some studies, more than 50% of patients with TN eventually had some kind of surgical procedure. Experience would indicate that medical management eventually fails in most patients with TN, and those patients undergo surgery. For patients in whom medical therapy has failed, surgery is a viable and effective option.

According to Dalessio, 25-50% of patients eventually stop responding to drug therapy and require some form of alternative treatment. [1] The clinician then may consider referral to a surgeon for 1 of the procedures discussed below. Among patients who develop TN when younger than 60 years, surgery is the definitive treatment.

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