Cranial nerves Multiple sclerosis

Is trigeminal neuralgia worse in people with multiple sclerosis?


Trigeminal neuralgia: comparison of characteristics and impact in patients with or without multiple sclerosis.

Godazandeh K, Martinez Sosa S, Wu J, Zakrzewska JM.

Mult Scler Relat Disord 2019; 34:41-46.



The commonest secondary cause for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is multiple sclerosis (MS) and little is known about this group of patients in terms of their presentation and treatments. We compared patients with TN and MS (pwTNMS) with a cohort of patients with primary TN, who had been referred to the same specialist unit, both in terms of characteristics and impact on quality of life at the time of their first assessment.


Using a prospective patient database we extracted key clinical data and results from psychometrically tested questionnaires of 26 pwTNMS and compared them to an age and gender-matched set of 68 patients with primary TN.


Our findings suggest that pwTNMS exhibit a more severe clinical phenotype than primary TN. Prior to referral, pwTNMS are more likely to have used more healthcare services and undergone more neurosurgical interventions. Strikingly, pwTNMS exhibit reduced lengths and duration of remission periods and fewer identifiable triggers. Furthermore, pwTNMS report significant impact on quality of life comparable to those in primary TN, scoring highly in measures of anxiety, depression, and catastrophizing, but also report greater sleep disturbance, and overall interference in activities of daily living.


Patients with trigeminal neuralgia and multiple sclerosis (pwTNMS) have a more intractable trigeminal neuralgia, one which may necessitate a more complex approach to treatment, earlier referral to secondary care and an extensive assessment of mental health. Quality of life in pwTNMS is severely affected by both their MS and their TN, suggesting management should occur in specialist centres with access to a multidisciplinary team.

This reference is cited in the neurochecklist:

Multiple sclerosis (MS): typical clinical features

Abstract link

By BruceBlausOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

By Ibrahim Imam

I am a UK Neurologist keen on general neurology, but with an interest in neuromuscular diseases. I maintain the neurology searchable database, I also blog at I share and discuss current issues around clinical neurology. I hope you find my blogs enlightening, practical, and even entertaining.

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