Thirteen years ago I started having neck pain and terrible headaches going up the back of my head and into my eyes. My doctor prescribed pain relievers and muscle relaxants upping the dosage whenever the pain became unbearable again. The meds were killing my stomach, so finally I went to physical therapy on my own and weaned myself of the medication. I still have flareups but it's manageable. A few years later, I started having shooting pains into my ear when I squinted, but I didn't have problems for very long or very often. Last fall I was playing with my son when he accidentally whacked the right side of my jaw and popped the left joint. I couldn't make my teeth meet. I didn't have any pain at first but then I had awful headaches for a few months. I was doing much better by the time I met with a TMJ specialist, but the possibility of being pain free was a big temptation. I'm going to a physical therapist to help with my jaw and to correct my posture, and the specialist made a lower splint for me to reposition my jaw back. He says I'll wear it for about six months and then only at night. I might have to get braces to readjust my bite. I'm having troubles with the splint. I can't figure out how to keep my jaw in position without biting it. This last adjustment was awful. It caused such terrible pain in both joints (I've never had problems with the right side before)and in my temples. When I took it out, I couldn't meet my teeth and it felt like I had been injured all over again. He's out of town and my dentist told me to leave the splint out and have the specialist readjust it when he returned. All this spurred me to do some research on TMJ. A lot of people seem to start out this way and then get worse. My specialist is supposed to be one the best and he says he's seen a lot of success. My dentist and my physical therapist say the same thing, but I have yet to hear from a patient that they've had success. Has ANYONE gotten better, either by my mode of treatment or any other?
There are some people on the board who have had success with splint therapy. They do make many types of splints, though, and sometimes the frustration is finding the one that is good for each individual case. Everyone is different.
As for braces, I wouldn't let anyone put braces on until you have your problems under control. I'm on this board to try to get advice and help for my son. His tmj problems began during orthodonic treatment. As you start reading about others, you'll see that quite a few had problems that began with braces, or shortly thereafter. Worry about the
bite after you get a handle on the pain.
As for your current splint adjustment, you should never have more pain, as you've mentioned ,from a splint. I don't think that I would wear it until you see your specialist. You don't want to cause more harm. Hope this helps!
[This message has been edited by CherylLynn24 (edited 10-30-2003).]
I'm curious to know why your dentist wants to move your jaw back? The reason I ask this is because I wore a splint over my lower teeth too, but it was to bring my lower jaw forward (because it was too far back). My splint therapy was successful.
I was wondering if you are using a neuromuscular splint. I just started with this type of splint and am having some questions about it, myself. It was odd that you said you are now having symptoms on the right side, because I have started getting a little popping on the right side when I chew (soft food) with it out and a couple times when I open. This has really scared me, as well, since up to this point I haven't had any popping on that side. When I e-mailed my dentist he said everything was fine, but I am still concerned. Like you, I cannot get back in for almost 2 weeks. Luckily, so far I am not having a lot of pain. Also, like you, I find that my teeth are able to "bite down" on the raised parts of my splint--places where they are not supposed to be able to rest. I found myself biting down this way last night and I know that isn't what I am supposed to be doing.
I sure hope we are doing the right thing. Let me know how you are doing and what you find out, ok?
[This message has been edited by totallyconfused (edited 10-29-2003).]
Thanks for the replies. I have removed my splint and have been feeling much better until late this afternoon. I think some long car rides with bad posture and poor choices of foods to eat probably put too much stress on the joints.
Marlene, how was your splint therapy successful? Do you have any ongoing physical therapy, flareups, etc?
I have an overbite. In order to get my teeth to meet completely, I push my lower jaw forward. The specialist says it belongs farther back and I've developed a habit of pushing it forward. When I first talked to him, I mistakenly thought I was SUPPOSED to have my jaw more forward and so I worked at holding it farther forward. I had piercing ear pains every day. When I got the splint I realized my mistake, and of course, getting my jaw into a better position felt much better. My brother says that he has to move his jaw forward in order to get his teeth to meet, but apparently he can maintain it in "back" position and hasn't had any problems.
My normal posture is with my head thrust forward. I've noticed that a lot of pain stops instantly when I put my head back. When I feel a pull on my upper cheekbones or lower jaw and then put my head back, the pressure is instantly relieved.
Right now my upper cheekbone/temple area really hurts on both sides and my jaw is stiff. I've never had pain like this in these areas. I believe the poor adjustment (I was freezing in his office that day and it made me tense - I don't know if that messed things up) probably caused some inflammation. I'm hoping a little time will bring some healing.
I'm actually glad my specialist is away right now. It gives me time to research, think, and pray how best to proceed. I'm REALLY interested in the success stories. I'm glad we have venues to share our stories and receive encouragement and advice - I'm learning a lot, but it's so depressing to hear horror story after horror story and feel like there's no hope. I would like to know some of the things that HELPED as well as the things to be careful about.
What evidence (ie. Xrays, etc.) does your TMJ dentist base his decision on, that your jaw needs to be further back??
To answer your questions about my successful splint therapy - by wearing a splint over my lower teeth 24/7 for a year (including when eating), this brought my lower jaw forward into a corrected position, allowing both discs (which were displaced anteriorly) to slip back into place. Then I had a year of braces to align my teeth with the new jaw position.
As for any ongoing physical therapy - I currently get a chiropractic adjustment (not on my jaw) once a month, and massage therapy with ultrasound to one jaw joint once a month. Both are kind of a "maintenance" thing for me, of my own choice. As for "flareups" - nothing that I would even classify as a flareup, just occasional muscle aches.