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Published on 6 July 2009

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Drug effective against facial pain


An anticonvulsant drug often used as a treatment for partial seizures has been found to reduce the stabbing pain caused by a facial nerve condition.

Trigeminal neuralgia is a disorder of one or both of the facial trigeminal nerves. It causes sufferers to experience shock-like or stabbing pain in the ear, eye, lips, nose, scalp, forehead, teeth or jaw.

Scientists from Spain have been looking into the effect pregabalin (sold as Lyrica) has on reducing the symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia.

Dr Concepcion Perez, of Hospital de La Princesa, Madrid, split 65 patients with the condition who had not received the agent before and had been resistant to previous analgesic therapy into two groups.

One was prescribed pregabalin alone, while the other used the drug alongside their current treatment, mainly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

After 12 weeks of treatment, both groups showed a greater than 55% reduction in pain intensity, with almost 60% of responders showing pain reduction of more than 50%.

There were also significant improvements in the reduction of anxiety and depression and many patients found they could sleep better.

Lead investigator Dr Perez said: “Our findings suggest that pregabalin could be a first choice therapy when treating painful trigeminal neuralgia under “real world” conditions, because it not only reduces the pain, but also its benefits extend to the associated symptoms of anxiety and depression and sleep disturbance-related symptoms – in a well-tolerated fashion.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

European Medicines Agency

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