Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is a condition which is characterized by the repeated episodes of severe pain in the tongue, throat, ear, and tonsils, which can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.
Irritation in the ninth cranial nerve, called the glossopharyngeal nerve is believed to cause this condition. Symptoms usually begin in people over age 40.Usually the source of irritation is not found.
Some possible causes for this type of nerve pain include:
•Blood vessels pressing on the glossopharyngeal nerve
•Growths at the base of the skull pressing on the glossopharyngeal nerve
•Tumors or infections of the throat.
• mouth pressing on the glossopharyngeal nerve
Symptoms include severe pain in areas connected to the ninth cranial nerve:
•Back of the nose and throat
•Back of the tongue
•Voice box (larynx)
The episodes of severe pain usually occur on one side. The episodes can occur several times in a day, and can even awaken the person from sleep.
It can sometimes be triggered by:
Tests are done to identify to diseases.
These tests may include:
•Blood tests to know the causes of nerve damage
•CT scan of the head
•MRI of the head
•X-rays of the head or neck
MRI may show swelling of the glossopharyngeal nerve. Pressure on the nerves can be seen in pictures taken using
•Magnetic resonance angiography
•X-rays of the arteries with a dye
The aim of the treatment is to reduce the pain. Over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen are not very effective for relieving glossopharyngeal neuralgia.
The most effective drugs are antiseizure medications, such as carbamazepine, gabapentin, pregabalin, and phenytoin. Some antidepressants, such as amitriptyline or nortriptyline, may help certain people.
In case of extreme pain, surgery is done to take pressure off the glossopharyngeal ner , microvascular decompression or cut the nerve. Both surgeries are generally considered effective. If the cause is known the treatment should effectively control the underlying problem.
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