If you ever have described your pain as someone stabbing you in the ear or an ice pick to the ear, you may have geniculate neuralgia. Geniculate neuralgia is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms can mimic those of cluster headaches or trigeminal neuralgia. Patients with this syndrome often have sensitivity to light and sound, leading to misdiagnosis of migraines.
Geniculate Neuralgia is often caused when a small sensory branch of the facial nerve, or nervus intermedius, is compressed by an adjacent blood vessel. Pain can be triggered by eating or drinking, stimulation of the ear canal – or as stated above – loud noises, or light exposure.
Patients suffering from this condition often report a sharp, stabbing pain in their ear that is frequently associated with a trigger zone in the ear canal. Sometimes it is reported as a burning or aching sensation and can be accompanied by pain in the face as well. The lack of specificity can lead to misdiagnosis and the continued suffering of the patient. Unfortunately, this is a chronic condition and the symptoms often worsen over time.
Other symptoms that have been reported in conjunction with this condition:
There are both surgical and non-surgical interventions available to treat this condition. Some medications have been shown to reduce pain or limit the number of episodes. Surgical microvascular decompression of the facial nerve has also helped patients find relief from their pain, whereas in other cases section of the nervus intermedius has been utilized.