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Pain Management

Antidepressants Versus Anticonvulsants

01/11/2011

Question:

I have what is likely to be nerve pain in my cheek area, radiating to my temples. In consulting my health provider, he has mentioned that there are antidepressant and also anticonvulsant medications available, in case this pain does not get better with OTC treatment or by itself. I`m uncertain about these medications, though. Is one better than the other? Can you tell me how a provider would make the choice between these types of meds, assuming that one or the other is called for in the first place? Thanks very much for your guidance.

Answer:

These medications can help with nerve related pain and are sometimes used in atypical facial pain. There are no guidelines as to which medicine is used first and no comparative studies that evaluated which may be more effective.

Typically, safer profile drugs are used first and factors such as heath care provider comfort with different medications may play a role in the selection process. These medications are overall generally safe but one has to be cognizant of their side effects and their limitations.

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Response by:

Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD Salim M Hayek, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University