Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is a disorder characterized by intense pain. The pain happens in the:

  • Tonsils.

  • Middle ear.

  • Back of the tongue.

The pain can come and go, or it can be fairly persistent.


Compression of the 9th nerve (glossopharyngeal) or 10th nerve (vagus) causes glossopharyngeal neuralgia. These nerves come from your brain (cranial nerves). Compression may be from:

  • Tumors.

  • Peritonsillar abscesses.

  • Vascular aneurysms.

In some cases, no cause is evident. Triggers of the disorder may include:

  • Swallowing.

  • Chewing.

  • Talking.

  • Sneezing.

  • Eating spicy foods.


Generally, treatment is symptomatic. Medications may be prescribed to reduce the pain. In some cases, surgery may be needed to relieve pressure on the nerve.

People with this disorder have remissions. They can also have times of increased pain. For many individuals, drug therapy reduces or eliminates the pain enough for them to carry on with their lives. When surgery is needed, most patients have very good results.