Trigeminal neuralgia is also called "tic doulourex." It's marked by intense, stabbing facial pain.
Botox contains a tiny dose of the botulinum-A toxin. Besides its cosmetic uses against wrinkles, Botox has also been studied in patients with migraines and temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) pain.
The new Botox study was short and small. It included 13 trigeminal neuralgia patients in Brazil.
The results justify a bigger, longer trial, write the researchers. They included E.J. Piovesan, MD, a neurologist at the Hospital de Clinicas da Universidade Federal do Parana in Curitiba, Panama.
The study appears in Neurology.
Before Botox, all patients reported severe facial pain from their trigeminal neuralgia. Then, they got one Botox treatment targeting the affected facial areas.
Facial pain eased in all 13 patients over the next 60 days, the researchers report.
Ten days after Botox treatment, patients' reports showed a significant drop in facial pain. Twenty days after treatment, patients were "almost symptom free," write the researchers.
Pain intensity dropped, and all patients curbed their use of preventive medications for their facial pain.
Four patients quit using those medications. The other patients cut their use of medications for facial pain by more than half, the study shows.
Botox didn't seem to have any bad interactions with those other medicines. It also didn't appear to make those drugs more effective, the researchers note.
Two Months of Relief
The effects of Botox on facial pain lasted for 60 days. That's when the study ended.
How much longer might the benefits have lasted? The researchers don't know.
"Our patients should have been followed for a longer period of time, so that the precise duration of the effects of [Botox] could be determined," write Piovesan and colleagues.