My husband has suffered off and on for the last six years with what
was diagnosed by a neurologist as Trigeminal Neuralgia. He has had MRI
scanning which determined that he has no physical abnormalities which
might have been causing his condition. He has taken carbamazipine
whenever he has had his attacks, but it has never helped him very much.
He still suffered severe pain which was not alleviated even with pain
killers. In the last year, he recovered from a 3 month episode of
pain in January 1995, had another 2 month episode which began in May,
and has been in pain since September 1995 until last week.
Last June or July, I wrote to this newsgroup asking if anyone had
ever tried to treat TN with acyclovir, since possibly it might be
some sort of internal herpes infection which was causing the pain,
which, if it could be treated, would alleviate the pain.
Two Fridays ago, I got an email message from someone in Montana who
I guess had found my question in the archives of this newsgroup. She
wrote to me to report that she had tried this and that it had worked
for her. I immediately went to our family doctor, showed him her
email message, and got a prescription for my husband based on the
information she had sent me. The doctor prescribed what is normally
prescribed for a case of herpes zoster (i.e. 800mg x 5 / day for 7 days).
After five days of this regimen, my husband was pain free. He finished
the course of tablets. He says he has an occasional twinge, but that he
is better. I guess we cannot know for sure that this is what worked
until we try treating the next attack (which he will have if it is
indeed herpes which never goes away). It sure seems like this is the
answer, though, at least for him.
I just want to report this as a possible solution for at least some
sufferers of TN. I know that TN is sometimes caused by pressure on
the nerve and that surgery is the only solution. However, it may also
be true that some cases of TN are caused by herpes which is treatable
In any case, I think that neurologists should consider trying this
treatment, at least with TN patients who have a history of cold sores
(as my husband and the woman who wrote to me do). From the description
of acyclovir, it seems that the worst side effect is that it is very
expensive (i.e., other side effects are minimal).
MRussell at sgit.iaea.or.at