This section contains a wide variety of so-called “alternative” treatments. Some are medical treatments that are generally used for other purposes, but which have anecdotally been used to try to treat facial neuralgia pain. Most of this anecdotal information has been gathered from feedback with facial neuralgia sufferers. They may or may not be effective; the important point is that someone has tried them.
Some of the treatments in this category are what is often known as “pseudo-scientific”. That is, there seems to be no rigorous scientific basis for them.
These treatments have two main problems. One problem is the possibility of fraud: unethical practitioners can easily charge large sums of money for essentially useless treatments. There is also the potential for damage if these treatments are used when a more traditional approach could be more helpful. Nevertheless, people have tried to treat their facial neuralgias with them, so they should be included in pain resources. We need to examine treatments for facial neuralgias, the good and the bad. How you personally view them is up to you.
There is some anecdotal evidence for the use of various anaesthetic substances for treating acute attacks of facial neuralgias. Some of these substances should only be used under professional supervision. In general, any pain relief is likely to be short-lived. In addition, these treatments are probably more effective for cases of atypical TN than for classical TN.
- Capsaicin – Brand name – Zostrix: Has been anecdotally used, especially for atypical forms of TN and atypical facial pain. This is becoming more of a mainstream treatment and possibly should be included as a standard drug treatment instead of an alternative treatment.
- Lidocaine cream / patch: Again, relatively harmless if used properly.
- Lidocaine nose sprays.
This group includes a variety of substances that have been suggested for facial neuralgia pain. Some of the substances may raise controversy, but an attempt has been made to avoid listing any substances that are directly harmful or poisonous.
- Herbal remedies: various herbal regimes have been suggested for TN.
- Homeopathy: a controversial treatment, but has been used by some.
In her B12 study “Do TN patients have a B12 deficiency and Is there a role of Vitamin B12 in TN Management”, Irene Wood found those who used B12 supplements were able to lessen their pain, and some were also able to achieve “no pain no medication.”
Many in our Association are now using B12 supplements to help manage their pain. The hypothesis is repairing of the myelin (re-myelination).
Her work is also published in J Pain Relief 1:109: Low Vitamin B12 Syndrome in Trigeminal Neuralgia.
These treatments treat the muscles rather than dealing with the nerve directly. At the very least, this relaxation can make it easier to deal with the pain. It is also possible that some cases of facial neuralgias are made worse by muscular strain, in which case these treatments could provide direct help.
For classical TN, these treatments are likely to have little effect; however, they may well help those with more atypical symptoms.
- Chiropractic: Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic focuses on aligning the C1, C2. Has helped others in achieving pain free.
- Myotherapy/myofascial release therapy
- Cranial Osteopathy/Craniosacral therapy
These treatments treat the nervous system directly (at least in theory). For lack of a better term, they can be classified under the term acupuncture-like. All have been reported to be used for facial neuralgia pain; as with all alternative treatments, the results have been inconclusive.
- Acupuncture: used relatively commonly; however, reliable success rates are almost impossible to calculate.
- Laser treatment: new, experimental treatment. Mechanism may be somewhat similar to acupuncture.
- Moxa therapy: similar to normal acupuncture.
- TENS: electrical treatment; effects may be similar to acupuncture.
- Hypnosis: This has been suggested for atypical as well as classical forms of TN. Only anecdotal evidence for it seems to exist so far. However, even some reputable textbooks do mention it as a reputable treatment.