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Volume 31 , Issue 4
Fall 2017

Pages e15e20


Clinical Characteristics, Pain, and Quality of Life Experiences of Trigeminal Neuralgia in a Multi-Ethnic Asian Cohort

Cheng-Yin Tan, MRCP, MMed/Nortina Shahrizaila, FRCP, PhD/Khean-Jin Goh, FRCP


DOI: 10.11607/ofph.1793

Aims: To describe the clinical characteristics of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) in a multi-ethnic Malaysian population and to relate them to standardized measures of pain severity, anxiety, depression, and quality of life (QoL). Methods: Patients fulfilling the International Headache Society (IHS) criteria for TN were prospectively interviewed for their demographic and clinical data. Pain intensity was rated with a visual analog scale (VAS), anxiety and depression were determined by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and QoL was assessed by the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire. Chi-square, Mann-Whitney U, and Spearman correlation tests were used to test for differences considering a significance level of P < .05. Results: Of the 75 included patients, 52 (69.3%) were women with a mean standard deviation (SD) onset age of 52.0 12.7 years, and 57.3% were Chinese, 24.0% Malay, and 18.7% Indian. Pain was more common on the right side (69.3%) and in the maxillary and mandibular divisions. VAS scores for pain at its worst were higher in anxious/borderline anxious patients compared to non-anxious patients (89.5 15.9 vs 80.9 17.2, respectively; P < .05), and VAS scores for pain at its least were higher in depressed/borderline depressed subjects compared to non-depressed subjects (38.4 25.8 vs 23.0 19.2, respectively; P < .05). Chinese patients had lower VAS scores for pain at its least compared to Indian patients (19.7 16.1 vs 39.9 24.7; P < .01). TN patients scored lower in all eight domains of the SF-36 compared to the general population. Indian patients had lower scores in role limitations due to physical health (8.9 23.2 vs 49.4 43.8; P < .01) and social function (56.3 13.6 vs 76.5 23.6; P < .01) than Chinese patients, and Malay patients had lower mental health scores compared to Chinese patients (59.1 19.5 vs 73.0 21.0; P < .01). Conclusion: Clinical characteristics of TN patients were similar to those of other populations. There were differences in pain ratings and QoL between TN patients of different ethnicities, as well as between those with anxiety and depression.


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