While rare, cranial vascular compression syndromes, including hemifacial spasm, vertigo, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, can occur just as trigeminal neuralgia (TN). But they are virtually never in the same person. Pressure applied to different cranial nerves (usually in a blood vessel) causes vascular compression syndromes. The symptoms reflect a hyperactivity of the original function of that nerve. Like with TN, they are typically sudden in onset and vary in severity.
At Neurosurgery One, we are well-versed in treating all areas of the brain stem, including those affected by vascular compression syndromes. We provide comprehensive assessments, ensuring that whether you suffer from trigeminal neuralgia or any other vascular compression syndrome, you will receive care tailored to your specific needs. Our experts treat patients from throughout Colorado, Wyoming, western Kansas, and New Mexico.
FAQs About Vascular Compression Syndromes
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Treatments for This Condition
What is hemifacial spasm?
Hemifacial spasm is caused by compression of the facial (7th) cranial nerve. Most commonly characterized by involuntary spasms on one side of the face, hemifacial spasm rarely occurs on both sides of the face. Often it starts as a subtle twitching of the eye. But it can evolve over months or years to include the mouth and the entire side of the face, occasionally becoming so severe that driving and other daily activities are rendered difficult or dangerous due to effects on vision of the affected side. Hemifacial spasm is more common in elderly women and people of Asian descent. It affects roughly 1 in 100,000 people.
Botox is typically the first treatment option for hemifacial spasm. In more severe or unresponsive cases, doctors recommend microvascular decompression (MVD).
What is glossopharyngeal neuralgia?
Most often caused by compression of the glossopharyngeal (9th) cranial nerve, glossopharyngeal neuralgia is the least common vascular compression syndrome, affecting roughly 1 in 125,000 people, most of whom are 40 or older. Glossopharyngeal neuralgia can cause severe pain in the back of the nose and throat, tongue or, in rare instances, the ear. The jabbing-like pain is typically on one side, with episodes occurring often throughout the day and night or only appearing every few weeks. Triggers for glossopharyngeal neuralgia can include chewing, coughing, laughing, swallowing, and speaking. Anticonvulsant medications and antidepressants are commonly used to treat the syndrome, while severe cases may require MVD.