What is the best way to treat face pain in MS?

Lead researcher: Dr Jianhua Wu

Based at: University of Leeds

MS Society funding: £37,546

Status: Active

About the project

People with MS are 20 times more likely to experience trigeminal neuralgia than those without MS. Often described as a sharp shooting pain in the face, it's the result of damage to the trigeminal nerve.

Some people find they're able to manage the pain with drug treatments, but the effectiveness of the treatments often reduces over time. In these cases clinicians may advise Gamma Knife Radio Surgery (GKRS). GKRS involves applying a very high dose of radiation to a very small area of the brain, targeting the trigeminal nerve.

Currently there's no standard procedure of treating MS-related trigeminal neuralgia using GKRS, with different clinics targeting a range of points along the nerve and using a range of dosages. Jianhua’s team will look at optimising the process to improve the effectiveness of GKRS for MS. They'll test different doses and treatment points, looking at which gives the most pain relief and the greatest improvement in quality of life for people with MS.

How will it help people with MS?

Pain can be one of the most challenging invisible symptoms of MS. Finding treatments that help people with MS manage it better is one of our research priorities. This project will improve an important procedure that has the potential to really help people experiencing face pain.

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MS researcher at work in lab, using a pipette