Cranial Neuralgias

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2018 Aug;24(4, Headache):1157-1178. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000637.


Purpose of review: This article describes the clinical features and diagnostic criteria, pathophysiology (when known), and treatment strategies of the major cranial neuralgias.

Recent findings: Abnormal vascular loops compressing cranial nerves are the most common known pathogenesis associated with the primary neuralgias.

Summary: The most frequently encountered primary neuralgias are trigeminal neuralgia, occipital neuralgia, and, rarely, glossopharyngeal neuralgia. Nervus intermedius neuralgia is even more rare. All neuralgias merit a careful workup for secondary causes. Drug treatment generally relies on antiepileptic drugs, antidepressants, and baclofen. OnabotulinumtoxinA can be useful in treating some cranial neuralgias. Surgical and invasive treatments include ablation, gamma knife treatment, and microvascular decompression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / complications*
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / therapy
  • Headache / etiology*
  • Headache / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neuralgia / etiology*
  • Neuralgia / therapy