Posted by: WONDERING | 2007/02/28


I get neuralgia every year on the left side of my face. I have lived with it since 1990. I matriculated in 1989 with never having this problem, only once I started working. The first 4 years the doctors put it down to Pharyngitis as I always went after the attack died down. My mom and the third doctor that I visited came to the conclusion of Neuralgia because this doctor told me to come in when I do get the attack.

My Neuralgia, if I feel the left side of my neck I feel and press I feel like an attack will occur. When I do get the attack it feels like someone hit me at the back of the neck and everything on my left hand side of my face is excruciatingly painful earache, my teeth ache top and bottom and left eye aches, if I swallow it hurts like hell. I get given tablets and rest for a week when I have a bad attack. The after attack is a very bad headache for a week. I have never been referred to a neurologist before, do you think they may be able to get to the bottom of my problem. I once was referred to an orthodontist and he suggested that I have my jaw broken as my jaw on the left hand side jumps out when I yawn. I did not like that idea. Maybe when I first started work something snapped and my neck and jaw was painful but never thought anything of it and then 5 months later I get my first attack. Someone gave me Beserol/Besonol (can't remember which) well the attack subsided but I came out in a rash. The first doctor put it down as a rash although I told him my ordeal. His son the second doctor told me it was Pharyngitis two years in a row. The third doctor a partner was concerned he came to the same conclusion as my mom (a medical typist then) that it could be neuralgia.

What would a neurologist do if they can help curb these attacks? I'm scared to have my jaw broken.

The pain feels like there is a "ball" that moves from the back of the neck to the front of my jaw when I swallow. I sometimes dribble because I'm scared of swallowing as it is painful. A bad attack lasts 3 days and that is after I've seen the doctor and taken medication and a light attack lasts a few moments if I lie on my back, close my eyes and try to relax. As I said the after effects is depending on the severity of the attack a mild headache and feel sleepy a day later to a very bad headache that last a week. I had a mild attack 2 weeks ago.

I don't like anything around my neck or a very strong crisp wind blowing on my neck and face as I fear it may set off another attack. This usually happens in the winter time but it has happened during other seasons. When I yawn I hold my left side jaw. I use to live in Pietermaritzburg but now living in Pinetown, the move has seen me having less attacks but still I'm nervous about having another one. Cyberdoc suggested I speak to you or a neurologist but one doesn't have one on this site.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageHeadache expert

Dear Wondering,

First, I would like to explain to you what is meant by ‘neuralgia’. It is simply the medical term for ‘nerve pain’ It is a term that us doctors sometimes use when we don’t know what is wrong with the patient. If on the other hand they have told you what kind of neuralgia you have, or what is causing the neuralgia, then we would know how to treat it. But it doesn’t seem as though anyone has yet made a proper diagnosis.

As for having your jaw broken because you jaw jumps out when you yawn, please don’t even consider it. Many people have their jaw jump out when they yawn, and if it jumps back again, then it is unlikely to need any treatment. It certainly can not be causing your present symptoms.

The feeling that there is a ‘ball’ moving in your neck when you swallow, and the pain on swallowing may be caused by a number of things, but the most likely is that you have a condition called ‘Eagle’s Syndrome’. This is quite a rare condition caused by a bone in the neck that is longer than usual. It is such an uncommon condition that most doctors will not have heard of it. The only way it can be positively diagnosed is for a very experienced doctor to put a finger at the back of the mouth in the tonsil area, and feel if he or she can feel the bone. A special x-ray would also show the long bone.

Even though this seems the most likely cause, I could only be certain if I examined you. I am going to be in Durban on 15 March. If you would like to see me, please call The Headache Clinic on 0861 678 911 and make an appointment.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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