Differentiating Trigeminal Neuralgia from 6 Similar Disorders

January 23, 2022

symptom of trigeminal neuralgia

Do you experience pain down the side of your face that makes you wonder if you have dental problems, nervous system issues, infection, or a neuropathic condition? You’re not alone! Thousands struggle to determine if they should go to a dentist or seek chiropractic care to relieve a symptom of trigeminal neuralgia. We believe the confusion primarily stems from the striking similarities between various dental problems and trigeminal neuralgia. 

Are you familiar with these conditions? If not, we suggest looking into our quick list of conditions that people usually mistake for trigeminal neuralgia. 

1. Toothaches and Other Dental Pains

A significant number of patients with trigeminal neuralgia get false diagnosis or seek the wrong remedies because they think they have a dental problem. To tell the difference between the two, we suggest checking the characteristics of your pain. 

Notably, dental pain usually goes away immediately especially after eating cold food. In contrast, trigeminal neuralgia symptoms don't fade away quickly. It can also cause unbearable jaw and facial pain when you cold treats like an ice popsicle or ice cream.

2. Headaches and Migraines

Migraine and headaches do not prevent you from smiling or eating with ease. However, they can cause crippling and disorienting pain that could lead you to believe that you have nerve disorders like trigeminal neuralgia. So, if you ever feel confused, just take note that trigeminal pain only affects the facial muscles and joints. Additionally, TN symptoms only appear when you touch or move your face or jaw area. 

3. Sinusitis and Related Infections

When we get sick, the sinuses can get inflamed or irritated by the disease causing pathogen that infected you. Unfortunately, this can cause facial pain and headaches that last no more than a day. You can also manage the symptoms by taking medications for anti-inflammatory symptoms. Interestingly, some types of sinusitis infection can trigger trigeminal neuralgia. This causes confusion especially when people assume that they only have irritated sinuses. 

If you experience TN symptoms but also suffer from trigeminal neuralgia, it may help to seek a combination of remedies. Alternatively, you can visit an upper cervical practice and find out if your  symptom of trigeminal neuralgia has a connection with cervical subluxation. 

4. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJD)

The temporomandibular joint or TMJ is a vital joint that enables movements in the jaw and when this is the cause of pain one cannot eat, speak or yawn. Trigeminal Neuralgia and TMJ are often confused since the pain roots from the jaw affecting the face and neck area. Here are key points of comparison you can use:

The pain you experience

An electrifying sensation usually indicates trigeminal neuralgia while TMJ causes a burning sensation or dull aching. 

Presence of jaw pain

TN rarely affects the TMJ, unless you also have the disorder. You should also look out for jaw-locking, a symptom that exclusively affects those with TMJD.  

The triggers

TN symptoms usually appear when you overexert your facial muscles. TMJD on the one hand gets triggered by excessive jaw movements (such as when speaking or chewing).

symptom of trigeminal neuralgia






5. Myofascial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome (MDPS)

MPDS refers to muscle pain in the face. The muscles in our face area play a critical role in facilitating facial movements. Needless to say, overworked or fatigued facial muscles cause pain that mainly affects the lower part of the face.

6. Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia (GPN)

The symptoms of this condition include severe pains near the tonsils that fade after a few minutes. According to studies, it’s a rare condition that stems from an irritated glossopharyngeal nerve – a group of nerve tissues located above the jaw and at the back of the ears. Unlike TN, GPN causes mild to extreme pain in areas supplied by the ninth cranial nerve, which includes the nose, pharynx, throat, tonsils, and ears.


What Makes Trigeminal Neuralgia Unique?

If you are diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia this means that your trigeminal nerve is irritated. This nerve functions for all the sensations we feel on our faces and just like any nerve in our body when it gets irritated or damaged the nerve has difficulty in sending messages to the brain. This dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve causes this pain we feel around the face and sometimes can get excruciatingly painful even with the slightest touch of the skin.

Trigeminal neuralgia can be debilitating to many as the pain can be unbearable. One cannot simply do an every day routine that involves the face like swallowing, eating, coughing or even smiling! Even tiny movement of the face can trigger severe pain similar to the sensation caused by an electric shock. 

Any movement that requires muscle in the face no matter how little it is may activate a trigeminal neuralgia pain attack. Most people suffering from this refrain from showing facial expression and even smiling because of the pain one is inflicted from.


Your Key To Relieving a Severe Symptom Of Trigeminal Neuralgia

If you already confirmed that you do have TN, your next step is to tap into chiropractic care to relieve a  symptom of trigeminal neuralgia. After all, studies have proven that neck misalignment is among the possible causes of trigeminal neuralgia. 

With upper cervical chiropractic adjustments, you can eliminate the irregularity in the neck and help your trigeminal nerve to heal and function correctly again. In time, you can retrain your spine to hold a neutral curvature and ensure that you eliminate all the sources of signal interferences within your central nervous system.

Are you ready to explore upper cervical chiropractic? If yes, we recommend locating the nearest upper cervical chiropractic practice and booking your appointment to start neck adjustments.


Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Areato schedule a consultation today.


Featured Articles


Montel Williams
Montel Williams

TV show host Montel Williams describes how specific chiropractic care has helped his body.

NBC's The Doctors

The TV show "The Doctors" showcased Upper Cervical Care.

CBS News/Migraine Relief

CBS News highlighted the alleviation of Migraines and Headaches.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.