Mayfield Clinic recognizes first International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day

Mayfield physicians lead clinical, research, and educational efforts

CINCINNATI – The Mayfield Clinic will mark a decades-long commitment to treating patients with trigeminal neuralgia and other forms of facial pain today through Friday by recognizing the first International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day.

“Light Up Teal,” which unfolds around the world today, will illuminate widely known international landmarks with the color of awareness ribbons for trigeminal neuralgia. The teal spotlights will fall on beloved locations that include Trafalgar Square in London, the Canada Peace Bridge, Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China, the Oamaru Opera House in New Zealand, and the American and Canadian sides of Niagara Falls.

This past weekend, John M. Tew, Jr., MD, a Mayfield Clinic neurosurgeon and a member of the TNA Facial Pain Association’s Board of Medical Advisors, gave four academic lectures at the association’s annual national meeting in San Diego. His lectures covered:

  • Diagnosis of Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia
  • Treatment of Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia: MVD and Rhizotomy
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia: PSR procedure
  • Total Rhizotomy for Recurrent Intractable Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia, which affects one in every 25,000 people, is an excruciating, often misdiagnosed condition that has been described as the “suicide disease.” Also known as tic douloureux, it occurs when the fifth cranial nerve (the trigeminal nerve) is compressed by an artery, vein, or tumor. The resulting inflammation causes intense, stabbing pain and muscle spasms in the face.

Dr. Tew has described the pain of trigeminal neuralgia as being akin to “biting down on a red-hot poker.”

“An international awareness day of trigeminal neuralgia is a day whose time has come,” Dr. Tew says. “The pain these patients suffer is almost indescribable and, in the most tragic cases, has proven to be truly unbearable. Yet many patients with trigeminal neuralgia have been told by their doctors that there is nothing more that can be done.

“Relieving these patients of their pain is the major accomplishment of my career.”

Mayfield neurosurgeons Ellen Air, MD, PhD, and George Mandybur, MD, also treat patients with facial pain. Dr. Air is Co-Director of the newly established Headache and Facial Pain Program at the University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute.

Mayfield neurosurgeons are experts at diagnosing the various types of facial pain, including trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, glossopharyngeal neuralgia, postherpetic neuralgia (shingles), and cluster headache. Mayfield, which treats more than 150 people with trigeminal neuralgia each year, is one of the few centers to offer all available treatment options: microvascular decompression, percutaneous rhizotomy, radiosurgery and sensory rhizotomy.

Dr. Tew, known worldwide as an expert in trigeminal neuralgia, has treated more than 4,000 patients during the past 40 years. He developed the curved-tip electrode for PSR and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles about the condition.

In addition to spearheading the first International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day, the TNA Facial Pain Association, a nonprofit health organization, is petitioning the World Health Organization to add Trigeminal Neuralgia to its global list of health topics.

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The Mayfield Clinic is recognized as one of the nation's leading physician organizations for clinical care, education, and research of the spine and brain. Supported by 21 neurosurgeons, five neurointensivists, an interventional radiologist, and a pain specialist, the Clinic treats 25,000 patients from 35 states and 13 countries in a typical year. Mayfield's physicians have pioneered surgical procedures and instrumentation that have revolutionized the medical art of neurosurgery for brain tumors and neurovascular diseases and disorders.


October 7, 2013

CONTACT: Tom Rosenberger, APR
Communications Department

Cindy Starr, MSJ
Communications Department