Face / Head / Neck

Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia

What is Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia?

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is a unilateral pain felt at the back of the throat and the tongue, caused by the nerve which supplies this area (the glossopharyngeal nerve).

Cause

The cause of this pain is usually unknown, but glossopharyngeal neuralgia does occur in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

Signs and symptoms

The pain episodes consist of very severe and unbearable pain at the back of the throat and the tongue, which may last from a few seconds to minutes. The pain often radiates to the ear canal and the neck. Attacks are usually triggered by swallowing, drinking cold liquids, sneezing, coughing, talking or clearing one's throat.

How is Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia diagnosed?

Physical examination

A general physical and neurological examination, especially of the nerves of the head, is very important, to exclude other causes such as brain tumours and abnormalities of the blood vessels in the brain. Certain diseases like multiple sclerosis, tumours of the tongue and inflammations may also cause glossopharyngeal neuralgia.

Do I need additional examinations?

  • Diagnostic examination for other non-physical factors important for your pain, have already been done by yourself trough filling out your pain questionnaires.
  • Depending on the cause, you may be examined with MRI scans or CT scans.
  • An ear, nose and throat specialist will give you a thorough examination.

What are my treatment possibilities?

Multidisciplinary Treatment

Depending on the cause of your pain, your pain specialist will decide whether or not to embark on physical treatment. Based on the results of the completed pain questionnaire, additional examinations can be carried out and, apart from physical treatment, other methods of treatment will be suggested.

Non-physical Treatments

If the results of your pain questionnaire are abnormal, your pain specialist will offer you one of the non-physical treatments listed below:

Physical Treatments

The physical treatment is dependent on the cause of the glossopharyngeal neuralgia.

Medication