Doctors can generally diagnose trigeminal neuralgia based on your symptoms. A description of your pain, along with the area where it occurs and what seems to trigger it, is probably all the information your doctor will need to make an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes it may also be necessary to rule out other possible causes through testing or further questioning. If you have multiple sclerosis and are experiencing facial pain, your doctor can use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine whether or not the disorder is causing your trigeminal neuralgia.
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Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Donna Hill Howes, RN, Administrator, answeredThere is no single test to diagnose trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Diagnosis is generally based on the patient's medical history and description of symptoms, a physical exam, and a thorough neurological examination by a physician. Other disorders, such as post-herpetic neuralgia, can cause similar facial pain, as do syndromes such as cluster headaches. Injury to the trigeminal nerve (perhaps the result of sinus surgery, oral surgery, stroke, or facial trauma) may produce neuropathic pain, which is characterized by dull, burning, and boring pain. Due to overlapping symptoms, and the large number of conditions that can cause facial pain, obtaining a correct diagnosis is difficult, but finding the cause of the pain is important as the treatments for different types of pain may differ.
Most TN patients undergo a standard MRI scan to rule out a tumor or multiple sclerosis as the cause of their pain. This scan may show a blood vessel on the nerve. Magnetic resonance angiography, which can trace a colored dye that is injected into the bloodstream prior to the scan, can more clearly show blood vessel problems and any compression of the trigeminal nerve close to the brainstem.
This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Trigeminal neuralgia is usually diagnosed by history and neurologic examination, which is usually normal. There are no laboratory tests for trigeminal neuralgia. The MRI of the brain may be done in order to exclude other neurologic disorders ( multiple sclerosis or brain tumor).Normal MRI findings and normal neurological exam confirm the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia.