What is Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia?

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is a rare neurological disorder that can cause repeated episodes of severe pain in the head, including the throat, ears, tongue and tonsils. While it is thought to be caused by irritation of the glossopharyngeal nerve —the ninth cranial nerve — researchers aren’t entirely sure why the irritation occurs.

While a definitive cause for the irritation is unknown, there is some thought that glossopharyngeal neuralgia could result from:

  • Blood vessels putting pressure on the glossopharyngeal nerve
  • Growths at the base of the skull pressing on the nerve
  • Infections of the throat or mouth causing pressure on the nerve
  • Tumors putting pressure on the glossopharyngeal nerve

The current understanding is that when pressure is applied to the glossopharyngeal nerve, glossopharyngeal neuralgia is the result, leading to intense nerve pain in the region affected by the nerve.

This type of neuralgia typically exhibits in brief episodes, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. These episodes can be triggered by movements of the head, such as when swallowing, coughing, sneezing or talking, or by drinking something cold.

What Causes Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia

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