Facial Pain and Spasm Center of Excellence

Dr. Raymond Sekula with neurosurgery patient

Facial Pain and Spasm Center of Excellence

Trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia are debilitating disorders involving the nerves that enter and exit the brainstem between the brain and spinal cord. In the case of trigeminal neuralgia and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, respectively, individuals experience debilitating pain in the face or throat, respectively, which many people report as the “worst known to men or women.”

Individuals may experience extreme pain with everyday activities of living, including talking, smiling, and eating. While medications often help in the early stages of these diseases, over time, medications often lose their efficacy or result in debilitating side effects such as cognitive decline, fatigue, and life-threatening electrolyte abnormalities. Patients tell us, “I’m just not living my life.”

On the other hand, individuals suffering from hemifacial spasm experience spasms, usually on one side of the face, which result in fatigue, depression, and social isolation. We have noted that individuals with hemifacial spasm are often told, “it’s just stress…give it time.” Further, individuals with hemifacial spasm are thought to have a cosmetic problem for which the risks of brain surgery outweigh the benefits. Our studies and those of others suggest this is untrue. Multiple and validated quality of life studies from our group and others suggest that hemifacial spasm is amongst the most debilitating medical conditions.

At Columbia University Irving Medical Center, we offer care for trigeminal neuralgia, glossopharyngeal neuralgia, and hemifacial spasm. Our providers pair their world-class expertise with state-of-the-art technology to understand what is causing you pain and design an approach to treat it. 

Our Expertise

Dr. Raymond F. Sekula, Jr. has recently joined the legendary team at the Neurological Institute of New York at Columbia. First established in 1909 and the first of its kind in the United States, the Neurological Institute remains a leader in the treatment of neurological diseases.

Our world-renowned team is here to provide the best possible presurgical, surgical, and post-surgical care for individuals with facial pain caused by a neurological condition. NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center is rated amongst the finest hospitals in the United States and over the past decade, Neurology & Neurosurgery Services at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center have consistently ranked among the top 5 programs in the nation for neurological care.

Dr. Sekula is a long-standing member of the Medical Advisory Board of the Facial Pain Association. Internationally recognized for his work, he has performed more than 1000 MVDs for trigeminal neuralgia and more than 1100 MVDs for hemifacial spasm and continually refined the procedure so that most patients will spend one or two nights only in the hospital without the need for the intensive care unit prior to discharge from the hospital. He is also an expert in revising ineffective MVDs for hemifacial spasm and has performed more than 150 such procedures.

International Patients

Patients traveling from abroad are encouraged to contact our clinical team for assistance. We work closely with Global Patients Services at NewYork-Presbyterian. Our multilingual Global Services team guides patients through their medical care experience, step by step.