How is trigeminal neuralgia (TN) diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. He or she will perform a physical examination of the head and neck areas, including the ears, mouth, teeth, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Other disorders may cause facial pain and mimic TN type pain so they need to be ruled out before a definite diagnosis is made. These include cluster headaches or migraines, post-herpetic neuralgia (pain following an outbreak of shingles), or TMJ disorder. Sinusitis and ear infections must also be ruled out.

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be performed to rule out the presence of a brain tumor, multiple sclerosis, or other causes. The scan might indicate whether a blood vessel is pressing on the nerve.

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