The cranial neuralgias are a set of chronic facial pain conditions caused by a malfunction of one or more of the fifth through tenth cranial nerves.
They are characterized by excruciating pain to the face, ears, eyes, tongue, throat, or scalp, depending upon which nerves are affected. The conditions are chronic and progressive. While patients often report long remissions initially, the neuralgias usually return and most often become more frequent and severe over time. There is no cure.
The incidence of cranial neuralgia is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to estimate due to under-reporting and misdiagnosis. At least one research study concluded that as many as 26.8/100,000 people per year are diagnosed with a cranial neuralgia. These conditions are more common in adults, though they sometimes strike children.