Pharmaceutical Management of Trigeminal Neuralgia in the Elderly

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Classical trigeminal neuralgia (CTN) is a severe neuropathic pain in the distribution of one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve, which occurs in recurrent episodes, causing deterioration in quality of life, affecting everyday habits and inducing severe disability. The aim of this review is to give an overview of the current literature on pharmaceutical treatment options for CTN in the elderly. The first-line treatment for the management of CTN in adults is an antiepileptic—carbamazepine or oxcarbazepine. There is a lack of research on the use of antiepileptics in the elderly. This is a deficiency, as the use of antiepileptics raises a number of problems due to the polypharmacotherapy common in older patients. This can induce drug interactions due to co-morbidities and changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Furthermore, the side effects of carbamazepine include central nervous system disturbances, such as a lack of balance, dizziness, somnolence, renal dysfunction and cardiac arrhythmias, which are poorly tolerated by the elderly. Unfortunately, the efficacy and safety of alternative treatment options have not been systematically evaluated. On the basis of the current literature, it is not possible to give an evidencebased recommendation for first-line pharmaceutical management of CTN specifically for the elderly.

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