| | Anatomy of the head and neck
One of the more obvious things that strikes me about tmj and the problems that people have with it is the variety of symptoms and the often inexplicable nature of them. Many of the strange symptoms are what characterizes the condition and more often than not confuses doctors. Doctors like specificity - acute conditions, things they can pinpoint and treat and cure. When you present with a collection of strange symptoms, non specific pain, pain that moves around theplace seemingly unrelated to anything, doctors get quite frustrated.
The real problem with tmj is that the joint sits at the heart of a delicate and hugely complex part of the body. Furthermore, the jaw absorbs and manages huge forces (mastication etc) and is close to the incredibly vital neurological stem that is the brain and spinal chord. The nerves, muscles and bones that form the cranium and neck are a minutely detailed anatomical region and many doctors have forgotten 90% of what they were taught. The cranial nerves branch off into all sorts of areas and espcially affect things such as balance and equilibrium. TIy fissures carry tiny nerves and blood vessels, miniscule ligaments affect even smaller nerves which in turn can have severe consequences when affected etc.
For example, the throat problems which many of us suffer from can be incredibly debilitating and severe. It seems hard to imagine that there is nothing wrong with the structures of the throat themselves, but usually there isn't. If a small problem does arise, the combination of the tmj symptoms and the real problem can be dreadful.
It is a weird thought that the trigeminalnerve - this thing is bloody crucial in so much of this! - provides sensation to the lining of the nose and throat! Anything that puts pressure on this nerve can stimulate alls orts of otehr symptoms.
Personally, I have looked into this a great deal and have chosen a particular path to a solution which is cranial osteopathy. I know people have trouble finding them in the US in particular (probably only because they might call themselves something different - after all, osteopathy is an American invention.
But at least, if you all do a bit of research on the web about the anatomy of the head and neck, you will begin to understand how the structures, tiny as they are, can have terrible affects. For example, I have been getting problems with the front/side of my throat. I had a pain at the top of my sternum, restricting my trachea and thus giving a sort of sore chest effect. This was the sternocleidomastoid muscle restricting the hyoid bone. My CO explained an exercise to me over the phone! I did it and it improved instantly. Such detailed knowledge and experience is rare in ordinary doctors.
So if you cannot find or afford an osteopath, then at least learn something of what they do becuase such knowledge will help you when discussing options and possibilities with your own doctors.
Of course those with severe degenrative changes to the joint need other treatments but for those with chronic but hard to pin down problems, it is always useful to know of the detailed anatomy that is at work here.
[This message has been edited by moderator2 (edited 12-22-2002).]