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Trigeminal Nerve Block

Trigeminal Nerve Overview

Trigeminal nerve block is a type of therapeutic pain procedure that involves injecting a local anesthetic into specific branches of the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from the face to the brain.

What is trigeminal nerve block used for?

Trigeminal nerve blocks are primarily used to treat headache and pain disorders occurring in the distribution of the trigeminal nerve. This may include trigeminal neuralgiamigraine, and trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias.

You may experience numbness immediately after the injection, and there may be some tenderness or a bruising sensation for a few days after the injection. The full effect is usually noticed after the soreness wears off, about three to five days after the procedure.

The length of time before symptoms reappear can vary widely, lasting only days for some people but weeks or months for others.

Trigeminal nerve blocks are typically not a cure for trigeminal neuralgia and chronic migraines. Symptoms can recur days to months after the procedure.

Am I a good candidate for trigeminal nerve block?

You may be a good candidate for trigeminal nerve block if you have facial pain or migraines that do not respond to other treatments.

Side effects may include difficulty chewing or swallowing and numbness in the face, but these effects do not last more than a few hours. Another transient side effect is facial weakness, but this is very rare. You may also have bruising, swelling, or soreness at the injection site for a few days after the procedure.

Trigeminal nerve blocks are an outpatient procedure and do not require general anesthesia.

Information and Resources

Trigeminal Neuralgia—National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Migraine—National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Medically Reviewed by Kerry Knievel, DO, FAHS and Shane Root, MD on June 7, 2021