I'm going to go ahead and attack your questions since I don't have much time right now.
I have had TMJ for 8 years or more. It's been bad for the past 2-3 and I've been more actively pursuing treatment. Although, I have always been with some sort of doctor.
I have tried a lot of splints... NTI, repositioning devices, flat splints, soft splints, this splint, that splint.
I lost count of how many I've had. Most of them just didn't work, and some of them made my jaw pain worse.
I have tried physical therapy, including ultrasound, radiofrequency, TENS, exercises, ionopheresis. I have had injections of steroids and anesthetics into the joints (that really really hurts- I passed out one time). I've had trigger point injections. I've had occipital nerve blocks, facet joint injections, cervical something or other injections all done by an anesthesiologist.
I've been treated by dentists, oral surgeons, nuerologists, anesthesiologists (pain managment doctors), general practioners, etc.
I've been on a soft diet since '96ish. All of these treatments have given me either disappointing results, made things worse, or kept things the same.
I've tried many medications. In anti-inflammatories I've tried relafen, mobic, naproxen, advil, and more. I had an allergic reaction to vioxx so I cannot take the new fangled drugs like celebrex and bextra. I've been on a lot of muscle relaxants, currently on soma, and I've found that I like it the best. I'm also on skelaxin during the day because it is non drowsy. I've tried flexeril, valium, xanax, zanaflex, and more.
I've had one surgery so far- an arthrocentesis which is basically a flushing of the joint and then injection of steroids. This left me worse off and caused my jaw to lock permanently closed.
Currently I'm seeing a pain specialist in conjunction with my oral surgeon, and taking opiate pain medication. This has helped somewhat and I am glad that I have gotten over the stigma of taking these drugs. I don't know that I could get out of bed without them.
I can't help but think that if I would've taken better care of myself way back when this first started, I wouldn't be in this boat now. But who knows- it could've ended up this way no matter what I did and how hard I tried (I don't know if I could've tried any harder...).
I'd like to thank you for asking these questions because in writing this post, it has made me realize yet again why this surgery is indeed the right decision for me.
It sounds like this TENS machine is doing very well for you. Relief 75 percent of the time is a great thing!!! Why don't you just wear the TENS machine all the time??? hehehe. Anyway since the TENS machine works so well it seems like you can deduce that your problems are in your muscles and not your joints. For that you are lucky because if you get the muscles to relax, you have relief.
Anyway I must go, but feel free to ask as many questions as you think of. I've been through it all!
Hope you're having a pain-free night,
[This message has been edited by goodwillstacy (edited 05-15-2003).]