Nerve pain can be dull - here is my long answer to your question. I have terrible TMJ in my right jaw joint, & in spite of a lower splint for my teeth & upper retainer which I wear at night, my teeth still occasionally get out of alignment which throws my jaw joint off. When this happens, I’ll have somewhat severe TGN symptoms (only on the right) which translate to pain above & behind my right eye, pain in the right side of my nose, achy bottom teeth & occasionally a migraine-like headache. My pain is always dull, achy, constant when I have it. I have intermittent pain from spinal nerve irritation which comes as electric shock, tingling, numbing, etc. My TGN pain is somewhat atypical as it doesn’t follow the “standard” for nerve pain which is the symptoms you suggested & which I experience from the nerves in my back.
Massage can help w/ nerve pain if it’s done correctly - i.e. sometimes nerves are irritated by inflamed/tense muslces. If those muscles can be worked over to help them relax then the tension on the nerves ceases & nerve pain subsides. When that is not the case, I do think directly massaging the nerve can irritate it further.
I’m sorry neurontin didn’t help you. We do have a member here who used it for 3-4 months post ES surgery before it started relieving her nerve pain. Sometimes it’s also a matter of tweaking the dosage i.e. doctors tend to start w/ a very low dose. When that doesn’t work, it can gradually be increased (as long as the patient is w/o side effects) to the point where it is helping. Did you go through any sort of progression like that? If so, & it still didn’t help, you could ask your doctor about amitriptyline even w/ the reaction you had to its cousin. Sometimes the slight variation in chemical content from one medicinal relative to the next can make a big difference in efficacy & lack of side effects (of course, the opposite can be true as well). Of course, you should mention your reaction to amitriptyline as well.