What is it?

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN) is a rare condition that can cause pain in the throat, the back of the tongue or the middle ear. The glossopharyngeal nerve is a cranial nerve that serves all the areas just mentioned. The pain is usually described as sharp, stabbing or shooting pain. The episodes typically are intermittent, from a few seconds to a few days. The pain can be triggered by cold liquids, chewing, swallowing, sneezing, coughing, clearing the throat or touching the gums. The cause for neuralgia is usually unknown but sometimes it may be caused by a trauma, surgical procedure, infections, multiple sclerosis, tumors, blood vessels near the brainstem or an elongated styloid process.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of glossopharyngeal neuralgia include episodes of sharp, stabbing, pain in the throat, the back of the tongue or the middle ear. These episodes may be accompanied by fainting, slow heartbeat or arrhythmia.


Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is diagnosed by medical history and physical examination. Sometimes an imaging test may be done to determine whether there is something compressing the nerve.


Treatment of glossopharyngeal neuralgia include anticonvulsant drugs, antidepressants and local anesthetics. If these don’t help, several surgical procedures may be done. These surgical procedures include microvascular decompression and gamma knife radiosurgery.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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