October 7th is International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day
For the second year in a row, Houston’s City Hall will be lighting up teal in an effort to raise awareness for trigeminal neuralgia (TN), a chronic pain condition that causes extreme, sporadic facial pain and affects an estimated four to eight million people worldwide. Christine Smid, a patient with the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center (MNI), was able to be cured from the debilitating disorder.
“It’s not an aching pain or anything like that, but it’s a burning pain,” said Smid. “It’s terrifying and there’s nothing I could do to make it stop.”
Smid lived with the pain for four years before being referred to Dong Kim, M.D., director of MNI and professor and chair of the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery at UTHealth Medical School.
“It’s considered one of the worst pain syndromes known to people,” said Dr. Kim. “More than half the patients will say that they considered suicide at one point or another. When the pain is that severe, patients can’t have a normal life.”
Smid underwent a microvascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve. The operation was successful and Smid now lives pain free.
“Sometimes I think about what it would be like if I still had this problem,” said Smid. “My life is back.”
A website titled Trigeminal Neuralgia and Me was created with the goal of gathering 20,000 signatures to petition the World Health Organization to add TN to its “Health Topic List.” Houston’s City Hall joins several buildings around the world on Wednesday, October 7, by lighting up teal to spread awareness.
About Memorial Hermann
An integrated health system, Memorial Hermann is known for world-class clinical expertise, patient-centered care, leading edge technology, and innovation. The system, with its exceptional medical staff and more than 23,000 employees, serves to advance health in Southeast Texas and the Greater Houston community. Memorial Hermann’s 13 hospitals include four hospitals in the Texas Medical Center: an acute care hospital which houses the Texas Trauma Institute and a Level I trauma center of which Life Flight® air ambulance is a part, a hospital for children, a rehabilitation hospital and an orthopedic and spine hospital; eight suburban hospitals; and a second rehabilitation hospital in Katy. The system also operates three Heart & Vascular Institutes, the Mischer Neuroscience Institute, three IRONMAN Sports Medicine Institute locations, joint replacement centers, cancer centers, imaging and surgery centers, sports medicine and rehabilitation centers, outpatient laboratories, a chemical dependency treatment center, a home health agency, a retirement community and a nursing home. As an Accountable Care Organization, the system also offers employers health solutions and health benefit plans through its wholly owned Memorial Hermann Health Insurance Company.