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Trigeminal Neuralgia and Other Cranial Nerve Syndromes

What are cranial nerve syndromes?

The cranial nerves are the 12 pairs of nerves that originate from the brain and lead to various parts of the body. A cranial nerve syndrome affects the connection between the brain and those parts of the body. The cranial nerves control some of your senses and some of the muscle functioning in those areas of the body.

One of the most common cranial nerve syndromes is trigeminal neuralgia. This syndrome affects the trigeminal nerve which is the largest of the cranial nerves and is responsible for feeling in the face and for biting and chewing. Trigeminal neuralgia can be very painful and can also worsen over time if left untreated. Other syndromes include hemifacial spasm and glossopharyngeal neuralgia just to name a few.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of a cranial nerve syndrome may include:

  • Dizziness
  • Facial pain or twitch
  • Facial spasm
  • Hearing loss
  • Paralysis
  • Weakness

How are they diagnosed?

Cranial nerve disorders are often diagnosed with a physical exam that includes a discussion about your symptoms. If your doctor suspects you may have a cranial nerve syndrome, he may order an imaging test such as an MRI.

How are they treated?

Many symptoms of cranial nerve disorders can be treated with medication. Surgery may also be an option. The course of treatment varies depending on each patient’s individual circumstance. Your doctor will discuss the options, and, together, you can decide which course of treatment is best for you.