The Penn Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders offers diagnosis and treatment for multiple cranial nerve disorders, such as trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, facial paralysis and glossopharyngeal neuralgia.

Our teams design surgical treatment programs individually tailored to each person's medical situation and specific needs.

The Region's Leader in Treating Cranial Nerve Disorders

Each year dozens of individuals suffering from cranial nerve disorders turn to Penn Medicine for the latest and most advanced treatment options. In fact, Penn neurosurgeons perform the area's most surgical treatments for cranial nerve disorders.

Supported by a multidisciplinary team approach, our neurosurgical specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating common and complex neurological disorders. Penn neurosurgeons are leaders in implementing the latest techniques and technology to provide the most advanced neurosurgical care.

Penn Neurosurgery is ranked as one of the best programs in the country and best in the Greater Philadelphia region by U.S. News & World Report.

Diagnosis and Evaluation

The cranial nerves are 12 pairs of nerves that emerge from the brain, as opposed to the spinal cord. Cranial nerves provide motor and sensory functions. These cranial nerves are among the most delicate nerves in the human nervous system and require surgeons who specialize in their normal and abnormal presentations.

Cranial nerve disorders can cause symptoms that include intense pain, vertigo, hearing loss, weakness or paralysis. Cranial nerve issues can affect a motor nerve, called cranial nerve palsy, or affect a sensory nerve, causing pain or diminished sensation.

The cause of cranial nerve damage is sometimes unknown. Other times, cranial nerve disorders are caused as a result of a brain tumor, abscess, multiple sclerosis, bleeding into and around the brain, or infections.

Trigeminal Nerve and Trigeminal Neuralgia

One of the 12 pairs of nerves, the trigeminal nerve, is a large nerve that carries sensation from the face to the brain. Pain associated with the trigeminal nerve can be severe and intense, and usually affects one side of the face.

This condition is known as trigeminal neuralgia, or Tic Douloureaux, and can be caused when blood vessels press on the root of the trigeminal nerve, a tumor, or multiple sclerosis. Classic trigeminal neuralgia is initially treated the same as atypical facial pain (e.g. medications). If medications fail, however, then classic trigeminal neuralgia can be treated with neurosurgical intervention.

Hemifacial Spasm

Hemifacial spasm is a neurological disorder in which blood vessels constrict the seventh cranial nerve, causing muscles on one side of the face to twitch involuntarily. Hemifacial spasm can be caused by several factors: facial nerve injury, a blood vessel touching a facial nerve, or a tumor.

Expert Diagnosis

The Penn Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders provides the most advanced options to diagnose and treat all types of cranial nerve disorders – including trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasms.

A thorough neurological examination, including various testing options, can be preformed to properly identify and diagnose a cranial nerve disorder.


In This Section

Cranial Nerve Disorders FAQ

Get the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Cranial Nerve Disorders

Cranial Nerve Disorders Research

Researchers in the Penn Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders are pushing the boundaries of medical research.

Cranial Nerve Treatments

There are several treatment options for cranial nerve disorders including surgical and non-surgical approaches.

Patient Stories

Hear the stories of patients who Penn Medicine has helped to break through their darkness and find new hope.

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