How is trigeminal neuralgia (TN) differentiated from glossopharyngeal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia syndromes?

Updated: Jul 11, 2019
  • Author: Manish K Singh, MD; Chief Editor: Robert A Egan, MD  more...
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Answer

Other syndromes with paroxysmal lancinating head pain include the less common glossopharyngeal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia syndromes.

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia causes pain in the tonsillar fossa, posterior pharynx, and ear and may be initiated by coughing, yawning, or swallowing cold liquids. During acute attacks of this condition, which is frequently associated with an underlying pathology, the patient may be unable to speak and tries to avoid moving the lips or tongue. An involuntary startle during an attempt to touch the affected side of the face is diagnostic.

Occipital neuralgia causes pain in the posterior head region. Thus, the distribution easily distinguishes it from trigeminal neuralgia. Confusion arises only if the patient cannot provide a clear history.


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