| | A success story for a board needing success stories
Hello TMJ sufferers,
I'm a 21 year old student studying at the University of Michigan. My TMJ most likely began 4 years ago when I had my wisdom teeth pulled. I spent months trying out neurologists and other doctors to try to understand the source of my symptoms--mainly, these awful headaches that only occured in the morning. I received normal splints as well as the fancier "Prevent your back teeth from touching" splint. I've gone through 1,000s of IB Profein pills. Accupuncture and, well, meditation. Jaw exercises and excessive exercising. None of these methods have really worked. I've dropped courses, activities, spent nights in my room frustrated, and have written glorious amounts of depressive poetry--typical angsty teenager of our generation.
But after many years, I think I've developed a combination of techniques to keep my TMJ suffering to a minimum. The things I'm about to mention may only be relevent to those suffering from bruxism (rarely to I clench during the day), and are most likely very unique to my condition, but if anyone is interested, read on.
1.) I stopped taking Clariton Decongestant for my allergies and switched to plain old Clariton. This may sound mundane, but I believe it has had the strongest affect on my TMJ. There are certain things--decongestants, alcohol, caffeine--that strongly affect how a person sleeps, and I've tried to control for them all. I highly recommend a switch away from decongestants if anyone is currently using them (I had been using them for many years)
2.) Never ever ever do I sleep in. When you sleep past your typical wake up time, your body's chemical levels start creeping up to where they would be if you were awake, but you are still sleeping. This makes a sleeper switch between REM and non-REM sleep more often, and the inbetween states are when most bruxers clench. So I try to wake up at the same time, even if it means less sleep for me. [i feel like this is something no TMJ doctor has ever told me. has anyone read about it related to TMJ?]
3.) Exhaustion. I walk and walk and walk when I have the chance. I ride the exercise bike, or go hiking. I make it so that my body needs its sleep, and thus when I'm actually sleeping, the sleep is deep and full of REM stages.
4.) Destress. I listen to soothing music, I write in a journal to relieve frustrations, I do things deliberately for myself. A slightly more selfish existence, but much more devoid of unnecessary destressors.
5.) Advil before bed. If I ever feel my jaw muscles spasming when its nearing bedtime, I pop 2 Advil. A slight muscle relaxer, hopefully only when I need it.
That's about it. These past few weeks (particularly since I've stopped taking the decongestants) I've read more, played more piano, and socialized more than in a long time. Hopefully my advice will help you. Beware of profit-hungry old-fashioned TMJ specialists. Their intentions are good, but they are in the end business men. I had a specialist give me a list of exercises and then charged me $600. Frustrating.
I hope that my story will help someone on the board. If not, maybe it will remind you that everyone's solution may be different, and may not even work for that long (I've only been functional for three weeks), but at least there are solutions to be found.