Evaluating the impact of trigeminal neuralgia

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Patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (TN) were categorised into 3 subtypes (n = 225). Group 1 (n = 155, 68.9%) had TN without concomitant pain, group 2 (n = 32, 14.2%) had TN with intermittent concomitant pain, and group 3 (n = 39, 16.9%) had TN with autonomic symptoms. We tested 2 hypotheses: (1) that different pain profiles would be associated with the different groups; (2) that the severe pain associated with TN would impact negatively on activities of daily living and thereby result in disability as defined by the World Health Organisation. A different pain profile was found across the groups. We obtained unequivocal evidence that TN causes disability with up to 45% of patients being absent from usual daily activities 15 days or more in the past 6 months. On the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, 35.7% patients had mild-to-severe depression and over 50% were anxious. The Pain Catastrophizing Scale showed that 78% of patients had considerable negative thoughts with scores >20 and a mean score of 36.4. Prior to referral, only 54% had been prescribed carbamazepine while opioids had been prescribed in 14.6% of the patients. Prior to referral, over 80% had already been to 1 specialist centre which had not provided appropriate management. Patients with TN report varied characteristics but all result in some degree of psychosocial disability especially before adequate therapy is attained.

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