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Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN) is a rare condition that affects the glossopharyngeal nerve, which lies deep within the neck. GPN causes episodes of severe stabbing pain in the throat, tongue and ears. These excruciating bouts last anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. Some people have multiple episodes in a day, others experience them every few days or weeks. The pain intensity and features of GPN are similar to that of trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve disorder affecting the face.

GPN is often caused by a blood vessel, tumor or other tissue compressing the glossopharyngeal nerve. In many cases, however, there is no clear cause. Most patients are in their 50s, although the condition can develop at any age.

Our Approach to Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia

As one of the top neurology and neurosurgery programs in the country, UCSF has experts who specialize in evaluating and treating challenging and rare conditions, including glossopharyngeal neuralgia. Our team is experienced in both conventional and cutting-edge therapies shown to alleviate the pain of GPN. Patients with GPN are given high priority in scheduling an appointment to evaluate treatment options.

Awards & recognition

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    Among the top hospitals in the nation

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    Best in California and No. 2 in the nation for neurology & neurosurgery

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.