Tegretol (carbamazepine) is an anticonvulsivant medication used for certain types of seizures and as a nerve pain treatment. It is used in people with MS to relieve shock-like pain, such as the facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia and pain associated with spasticity and spasms. Tegretol decreases the nerve impulses from the brain that cause seizures and pain.
There are generic versions of Tegretol available. They can be regular tablets or in chewable, extended-release, or a suspension form to be taken orally. The extended-release is usually taken twice a day, while the other versions are usually taken two to four times a day, at the same time every day.
Tegretol will help control the symptoms of MS but will not cure the disease. It may take some weeks until patients feel the full benefit of Tegretol.
Common Tegretol side effects may include dizziness, loss of coordination, problems with walking, nausea, vomiting or drowsiness.
Tegretol comes with a black box warning (information that appears on a prescription drug’s label and is designed to call attention to serious or life-threatening risks) concerning serious and sometimes fatal dermatological reactions, including toxic epidermal necrolysis and Stevens Johnson syndrome, especially in people with Asian ancestry.
Pain can have a serious impact on the quality of life of people with MS. A combination of positive lifestyle modifications (exercising and staying active, massages, chiropractic treatments, hydrotherapy, acupuncture) and medicines may reduce the impact of pain on the quality of life of MS patients.
The usual analgesics are usually not enough to ease the pain from nerve damage in the central nervous system, so drugs that treat seizures (phenytoin, gabapentin, carbamazepine) and antidepressants (amitriptyline, nortriptyline) and some benzodiazepines (clonazepam) are commonly first choices for pain management.
Read the latest news on pain management in multiple sclerosis here.