Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

Other name: Tegretol

Carbamazepine is an anti-epilepsy drug that is used in multiple sclerosis to treat pain associated with spasticity and spasms, trigeminal neuralgia and some other pain symptoms.

The NICE guideline for neuropathic pain recommends carbamazepine as an initial treatment for trigeminal neuralgia.

How does carbamazepine work?

Carbamazepine is an anti-convulsant drug. It works by reducing or blocking some messages from the brain to the rest of the body.

How do I take carbamazepine?

Carbamazepine is taken by mouth (orally) as tablets. The dose needed varies for different people. Your doctor will advise on the right dose for you. Tablets are usually taken two or three times a day. Normally you start on a low dose which is gradually increased. The tablets can be taken during, after or between meals.

Side effects

Common side effects include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, liver problems, constipation and a reduction in white blood cells which can increase your risk of infections. Many of these side effects ease off over time.

Some serious side effects have been reported on this drug, including serious skin reactions accompanied by fever, mouth ulcers and unexplained bruising or bleeding. Speak to your doctor if you experience any side effects whilst taking carbamazepine.

Carbamazepine can affect the way hormone contraceptives, like the pill, patches, injections or implants, work. It may make them less effective and therefore increase your risk of getting pregnant.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to start a family, talk to your doctor as carbamazepine may not be suitable for you during these times.

Find out more

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Neuropathic pain in adults: pharmacological management in non-specialist settings.
London: NICE; 2013.
Full guideline (link is external)
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