by Dr. Michael Horowitz

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GLN) feels like sharp, one sided throat pain when swallowing liquids or solids. How do you get glossopharyngeal neuralgia? No one knows exactly what causes Glossopharyngeal neuralgia.

Doctors who treat glossopharyngeal neuralgia feel it is due to blood vessels striking the Glossopharyngeal nerve and the vagus nerve with each heartbeat as they arise and exit from the brain. This beating of the blood vessels against the nerves likely either damages their insulation coating or irritates the nerves causing them to function abnormally and give a sensation of severe pain when a substance touches the throat’s lining and swallowing his carried out.

When it comes to how to treat glossopharyngeal neuralgia, there are generally no medications that successfully treat Glossopharyngeal neuralgia although we will at times try oral medications. If these medications fail or it is determined that they are not indicated, then Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is treated by moving the blood vessels off the glossopharyngeal nerve and the vagus nerve where they exit the brain and then placing small Teflon pillows between the nerves and the blood vessels so that the blood vessels do not directly strike these nerves with each heartbeat.

The surgeon will also decompress the trigeminal neve since this additional step often improves outcomes.  This procedure is called microvascular decompression (MVD). Patients that undergo the glossopharyngeal neuralgia treatment of microvascular decompression have greater than an 85% chance of a cure.

Your surgeon will discuss each of these treatment options with you and recommend the best treatment for your case.