J Postgrad Med. 2022 Nov 28. doi: 10.4103/jpgm.jpgm_797_21. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Trigeminal neuralgia (TGN) is considered a sensory neuropathy. However, reports of pain on chewing/speaking suggest a masticatory myofascial involvement.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the effect of ultrasound-guided dry needling (USGDN), which deactivates myofascial trigger points in masticatory, neck, and facial muscles on TGN symptoms.
METHODS: Charts of 35 patients treated for TGN were retrospectively reviewed. Treatment was USGDN alone or combined with trigeminal ganglion/mandibular nerve pulsed radiofrequency (PRF), followed by yoga mudras to stretch masticatory and facial muscles. Patients were followed for 1-8 years. Outcome parameters were reduction of medications with reduction in neuralgic attack frequency and Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) score.
RESULTS: 23 patients (65.7%) received USGDN alone, 12 patients (34.3%) received PRF treatment before USGDN. A significant reduction in the mean (SD) NRS (5.7 [1.2] vs 8.8 [1.6]; P < .001) and neuralgic attack frequency (47  vs 118  attacks/day; P < .001) was seen after PRF compared with baseline, respectively. Following USGDN, the mean (SD) NRS further decreased significantly to 1.0 (0.9) (P < .001). USGDN alone produced a similar improvement in the NRS (8.9 [1.5] at baseline reduced to 0.6 [0.7] post-USGDN; P < .001). Patients in both groups reported a cessation in neuralgic attacks after USGDN. Post-USGDN, 18/27 patients completely discontinued medication, with the mean (SD) carbamazepine dose significantly reducing from 716.7 (260.9) mg/day at baseline to 113.0 (250.2) mg/day post-USGDN (P < .001).
CONCLUSION: Decisive relief of TGN by USGDN suggests neuromyalgia involving masticatory muscles. Prospective, controlled studies could confirm these findings.