Acupuncture as an Adjunct Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia


Since being diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, it went from bad to worse.  Even with the maximum dosage of Pregabalin and a thrice-a-day dose of Tegretol, the pain in my face was an almost constant 8-9 out of 10.  I like the following pain scale, because it also shows my mental state.

15 Pain Scales (And How To Find The Best One For You) |

Not only was I reeling from the Tegretol, but I was almost incapacitated with facial pain, which somehow is so much worse than pain in something further away.  I was taking huge quantities of medications designed to control this pain and it just wasn’t working.

So I put all my hopes on a blood vessel touching my trigeminal nerve somewhere so they could perform microvascular decompression, which is this really cool brain surgery where they stick a little sponge between the blood vessel and the trigeminal nerve and voila, around about 7 years of no pain!

The MRI showed up nothing.  Everything was fine.  Nothing was even vaguely touching the trigeminal nerve.  There was no explanation for why I had trigeminal neuralgia.

I had a complete meltdown.  I was really banking on the MRI showing something, and it didn’t.

The next day I booked in for acupuncture.  I have now had three acupuncture sessions, and I’m just about to go to my fourth.

After the first acupuncture session my pain went down to a 2-3.  I stopped taking my midday Tegretol, so I was down to twice-a-day Tegretol.  After my second acupuncture session, my pain went down to a 1-2.  I was moving that week, so every once in a while I would have a flare up to a 7.  The CBD Living Freeze (they don’t pay me for this shout out) has been a godsend for these flareups.  I roll it all over my face, fan the eucalyptus and menthol fumes away from my eyeballs (it buuuuuurns), and my face feels normal again!

I have a mild worming pain across my zygomatic arch right now, and a bit of a bone eating sensation in my jaw, but the consistent pain rarely gets above a 3.  As I said before, I am just about to go to my fourth acupuncture session, and once my nerves have settled down from that I shall drop my Tegretol down to once a day.

My goal is to completely come off Tegretol and regain my brain and my waistline!

Three Days Post Acupuncture


Last weekend I had been suffering greatly, and even that is an understatement.  All three branches of my trigeminal nerve on my right face were aching constantly.  My nose was set to a permanent state of burning cold.  My zygomatic arch and brow just ached so much my eyelids were significantly more closed than usual.  There’s a continuation of the first branch that I didn’t know about until it shot up from my eyebrow straight up my forehead.  Ouch, right?

Then there was my third branch, the one that goes down my mandible.  The usual hole was being eaten into my jaw, and then I had burning aches in my chin, up my jaw, the works.

The pre-branched part of my trigeminal nerve wasn’t letting the branches one up it either, it was screaming pain, making it very difficult to put my glasses on, and woe betide me should anything graze the side of my face!

Because of all this, my fibromyalgia was up.  I was incredibly stiff in the morning, and very painful to move around, all the way up until the early afternoon.  Everything was giving me hell.

I had acupuncture.

For the rest of that day, my right trigeminal nerve was deeply confused, sending waves of peace, followed by crawling burning ache, then stabbing pain.  But I was getting peace.  I myself was pretty out of it so I spent the day doing not much at all and went to sleep early.

Day one after acupuncture was bliss.  My third branch wasn’t doing anything.  This is the one that’s been eating away my jaw almost since my trigeminal neuralgia kicked up a notch in June.  It was gone.  My first branch across my brow ridge was aching, but nothing like before.  I could actually think again!  I had no shooting pains, nothing.

Day two after acupuncture was also pretty rad.  A little bit more pain was coming through, but not much.  The pre-branching trigeminal nerve was aching a bit, my brow was still aching, but that was about it.

Day three after acupuncture things are sadly getting back to almost normal.  The pre-branching trigeminal nerve is hurting a lot, my brow is aching up to the middle of it, my jaw is being eaten away, and my nose is starting to turn to ice.  I don’t think it’s as bad as it was before, pain wise, but it’s still debilitating enough that I’m just wanting to go back to sleep (instead I’m just about to quaff my third coffee in 1.5 hours – STUDY STOPS FOR NO ONE).

Still, this was a fantastic experiment.  It shows to me that acupuncture can have a serious positive affect on my trigeminal neuralgia.  I’ll report all of this to my acupuncturist on Monday when I see him next and we shall try something else.  We’re just going to keep going to see what sticks!

Adding In Acupuncture


After the meltdown of finding out there was nothing wrong with my brain or trigeminal nerve, I decided to get to throwing everything at it to find out what sticks.  One of those things I’m throwing at it is my old physio, who does laser and ultrasound therapy for injuries, as well as acupuncture and chiropractic work.  He’s an all rounder, and he’s very effective.

When I first visited him, he unlocked my hips – unfortunately my muscles weren’t used to my hips being able to swing, and so I was walking into things and clipping the corners of desks and the like, but my hips were working like they were supposed to again!  While treating me for an injury he would also do minor adjustments to my back, each of them having huge and lasting effects.  When I’ve been to him during major fibromyalgia flare ups, a few adjustments have me feeling better.  Not completely better, but just better enough that I can get through the day.

Today was my first acupuncture session.  Now please keep in mind that I am viscerally terrified of needles.  I tend to faint when I’m needled for any reason.

I lay on my back and waited as he tore open the package.  He was very swift in placing the needles, almost no time between placing the guiding mount and pushing in the needle.  He placed four on each side, one over the trigeminal nerve, one up the scalp, one behind the jaw, and one just in front of the ear.  Tiny pinpricks of anxiety.

I’m not verbose enough to describe how I lay there and panicked as he placed them one by one, but suffice to say, I did.  A number of times he asked me if I was okay.  I had to explain that yes, I’m fine, I’m just panicking because there’s needles involved.  Once they were in and I was accustomed to the sensation, I was able to sort myself out and relax.

Since the treatment I have been attempting to catalogue the difference in trigeminal pain.  Until now it’s been less continuous.  I’ve had more sharp stabbings rather than slow burning aches, although they’re still there.  The sensation of having one particular tooth pulled without analgesia is still there and just as intense.  It all feels just a bit different.  I’m not sure if that different is better or worse than before, and to be honest unless I was experiencing them both at the same time I wouldn’t be able to tell you which was better or worse.  It’s just different.

I’m also really drowsy, which is normal.  I usually have a bit of a shit rest of the day, but the next day brings about improvements.  I’m hoping that’s the case here!  And even if not, I’m there again next week.  I’ll just keep throwing shit at it to see what sticks!