Diagnosing Trigeminal Neuralgia

Diagnosing trigeminal neuralgia takes the cooperation of the primary care physician, dentist, oral surgeon, neurologist, and neurosurgeon. To streamline the process and provide the most treatment options for patients, the team at the Colorado Trigeminal Neuralgia Clinic consists of a neurosurgeon, neurologist, and pain management specialist.  

Nearly half all of trigeminal neuralgia sufferers are diagnosed with something else prior to a trigeminal neuralgia diagnosis. As such, unnecessary teeth extractions, sinus surgeries, and other medical procedures are often performed. By consulting the team at the Colorado Trigeminal Neuralgia Clinic early in the process, you can receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment options. We can work with your other medical providers to ensure that all treatment options are understood, giving you the choice in what is best for you.

To properly diagnose trigeminal neuralgia, or TN, the Colorado Trigeminal Neuralgia Clinic typically does the following:

  • Assesses the patient’s medical history, reviewing all previous scans and assessments as necessary
  • Conducts a neurological exam—a quick assessment of numbness, coordination, and strength
  • Asks patients a series of questions that help identify trigeminal neuralgia (i.e. the character of the pain, triggers, responses to medications)

Patients typically undergo an MRI at some point after their diagnosis to rule out a tumor pressing on the nerve, which occurs in roughly 3 to 5 percent of cases.

After a diagnosis is made, we will help you understand all of your options and refer you to the most appropriate specialist. If you already have a neurologist, we work closely with your doctor to assess your options and help you make a decision.