Glossopharyngeal neuralgia occurs in the distribution of the glossopharyngeal nerve and/or the auricular, or pharyngeal branches of the vagus nerve. It can be diagnosed when certain clinical features are present.


Diagnostic features:

(1) paroxysmal attacks of facial pain, lasting from a few seconds to 2 minutes.

(2) 4 or 5 of the following:

(2a) unilateral

(2b) affects the posterior tongue, tonsillar fossa, pharynx, beneath the angle of the lower jaw, or in the ear

(2c) the pain is described as sudden, sharp, stabbing or burning

(2d) the pain intensity is severe

(2e) may be precipitated at a trigger point or by swallowing, chewing, talking, coughing or yawning

(3) no neurological defect

(4) attacks are stereotypic for the individual patient

(5) other causes of pain have been excluded (by history, physical examination, special studies)


The syndrome may be totally episodic, with remissions and relapses over time.


Symptomatic glossopharyngeal neuralgia secondary to a causative lesion can have aching pain that persists between paroxysms or a sensory impairment in the distribution of the glossopharyngeal or vagus nerves.


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