Cognitive and sensorimotor function in participants being treated for trigeminal neuralgia pain
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonCoats, R. O., Crossley, K. L., Conlin, N., Wu, J., Zakrzewska, J. M., Pavitt, S. H., Phillips, N. & Mon-Williams, M. (2020). Cognitive and sensorimotor function in participants being treated for trigeminal neuralgia pain. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 21, 91. https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-020-01156-9
Background: Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is an orofacial condition defined by reoccurring, spontaneous, short-lived but excruciating stabbing pain. Pharmacological interventions constitute the first-line treatment for TN, with antiepileptic drugs commonly prescribed. People treated for TN pain with antiepileptic drugs describe cognitive and motor difficulties affecting activities of daily living, and report poorer quality of life. We undertook the first comprehensive objective evaluation of sensorimotor and cognitive performance in participants being treated for TN pain with antiepileptic drugs relative to age-matched controls. Methods: Participants (43 TN, 41 control) completed a battery of sensorimotor (steering, aiming and tracking) and cognitive (working memory, processing speed, inhibition) tasks. Results: The TN group performed significantly worse than controls on the sensorimotor tracking and aiming tasks and across all cognitive measures. Conclusions: The data explain why patients treated with antiepileptic drugs report impairment when conducting activities of daily living (given the need for cognitive and motor capability within most of these). The study is an important first step in: (i) ensuring there is adequate information on the impact of pharmacological treatment; (ii) identifying measures to determine optimal medication dosage and track change over time; (iii) creating an evidence base that could allow scientific justification of alternative pain treatment options for TN (e.g. the costs/benefits of surgery).