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TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint Message Board
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:08 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Ontario
Posts: 2
Elzhi HB User
Jaw locked for several days - HELP!

I woke up on Friday and immediately felt some pain in the right side of my jaw and realized I couldn't open it very far. Well I wiggle it around and it unlocked, locked again, unlocked etc until finally it stayed unlocked for the whole day (there was a slight discomfort when eating). Next morning same thing, woke up unlocked it and I went back to bed. When I woke up an hour later it was locked again but didn't quite feel like the locks before, it didn't really hurt too bad and feels like my jaw gets to a certain point then there's something stopping it.

I believe the cause of it is me clenching my teeth when I sleep, I've woken up before with my jaw clenched on numerous occasions. Also before this my right side jaw would click/pop painlessly while eating.

So I bought a nightguard, been doing the massages and exercises I found online, and yesterday started taking a muscle relaxer which has gave me a bit more room to open (can open 30mm with a slight discomfort) and almost no pain at all.

I don't think I handle stress very well and I've had this sinking feeling in my stomach since it happened, kind of like I just lost a $100 bill. I literally haven't smiled in 5 days, been completely miserable and unusually emotional. I have literally read every search query on google about TMJ, it's all I can think about. As my Mom put it "You're acting like you've been diagnosed with cancer"

My question at this point is; what should I do? I get really really severe anxiety just thinking about a Dentist on top of the fact I really don't have the money for one.
What are the chances of this unlocking on it's own?
How can I tell if the disc is the problem or the muscle spasming?
Should I just force it open? (get's painful if I really really force it).
How long can I leave it 'locked' for before I suffer irreversable damage?
Will it ever unlock if I stay stressed out like this?

My current plan is to keep taking the relaxers and if It doesn't open in 6 more days I'll go to my family doctor to get his advice.

The only symptom I have is not being able to open my jaw fully =/ No pain in the neck/back/face. My jaw opens straight and my bite seems normal, weird right? Hoping to get some feedback possibly from people who've been in the same situation.

Thanks if you read this!

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Old 08-28-2012, 09:56 AM   #2
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
Posts: 45
gretel07 HB Usergretel07 HB User
Re: Jaw locked for several days - HELP!

Hi there - same thing happened to me. I had no pain (just popping for a loong time, but without pain). Then, I would wake up locked (and wiggle my jaw around to unlock). And then, one day, I was locked at 30mm. I waited 2.5 months to see someone, and by the time I had the unlock procedure it had been 4 months.

You will need to have someone look at it. I thought mine would unlock on its own, and waited longer than I should have to see a TMJ specialist. The longer you stay locked, the longer your ligaments are getting stretched. I would suggest getting in to see a TMJ dentist. PM me if you want

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Old 08-28-2012, 10:18 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 205
ktnap HB User
Re: Jaw locked for several days - HELP!

Lately, my jaw has been "catching". When I had braces (as an adult), the orthodontist asked if my jaw had ever locked. I told him it hadn't; he said to expect it in my lifetime. Which makes me wonder, if you have to wait so long to see someone, how do you eat, drink, brush your teeth?? or even talk? (to make an appt!)

Last edited by ktnap; 08-28-2012 at 10:19 AM.

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Old 08-30-2012, 10:05 AM   #4
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Ontario
Posts: 2
Elzhi HB User
Re: Jaw locked for several days - HELP!

Made an appointment with my doctor to get his opinion and ask if he knows a good specialist in the area, gotta wait till Wed now. Currently my only symptom is the limited mouth opening (about 32mm), no pain, no headaches... nothing. I'm praying I can get this fixed without a splint, I really don't want to alter my teeth or my bite unless I absolutely have to.

Question though, does anyone know if I should be totally resting my jaw or should I be doing these tmj jaw exercises to keep it from seizing up?

Last edited by Elzhi; 08-30-2012 at 10:07 AM.

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Old 08-30-2012, 01:54 PM   #5
Junior Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Huntsville, Alabama
Posts: 45
gretel07 HB Usergretel07 HB User
Re: Jaw locked for several days - HELP!

Elzhi-I feel like you are at where I was last January! No pain to begin with, so I ignored it.. and then 4 months later I started having excrutiating joint pain. Like - can't get out of bed pain. I'm not telling you this to scare you, but to just encourage you to get this looked at ASAP before any pain sets in. Although, my specialist told me that many people live locked and have no pain at all. so, maybe you will be one of those lukcy people! I was not.
Anyway, my primary care doctor referred me to an oral surgeon, who I didn't go see because I was only interested in non invasive procedures (and not surgeries). So - I never saw the oral surgeon and ended up finding my own TMJ specialist at a university a few hours away from me who was able to do an unlock procedure and put me in a splint. He treats TMJ patients almost exclusively, which is something you want to look for. Most dentists who don't treat TMJ a lot will not have a full understanding of what is going on with your jaw, just sayin.

I know that some primary care doctors will prescribe muscle relaxers, others antidepressants, antiinflammatories... it really depends on who you go to and what people think your problem is. Is it joint or muscular? Most are muscular.. but then there are us lucky ones with displaced discs and so it is a joint thing.

I too, after this happened, googled jaw exercises and wondered if I should do them. During my emergency consultation with the TMJ specialist (many of them have several month long waiting lists, so if you get referred to one make sure you tell them you are LOCKED at 32mm) he told me to eat a soft diet and not do any exaggerated movements with my jaw (moving side to side and such like they have on those you tube videos), because it just further stretches out the ligaments that hold your disc in place. He said you don't want to stretch out anything until they can unlock you. Again, I don't know your situation, obviously, but want to relay what I was told for my individual situation.

So, after my "unlock" procedure (yes, a skilled TMJ specialist or oral surgeon can do this, no anesthesia necessary), my disc went back into place partially. However, my ligaments are too stretched out to hold it as far back as it needs to be. Everything I've read and been told says that part of a disc is better than no disc, so I am happy with what it is. I do have some crepitus and popping still. I've been told I will likely have that forever.

As for the splint, for me the only way to keep me unlocked was to go into a repositioning splint. I have to say, it is no fun BUT totally worth not being in pain and able to open my mouth like a normal person. I have also started PT to look at my body position and posture, which I originally thought was a bunch of hooey, but daily exercises have helped a ton in making me feel better. If all goes well I go into braces to make my bite change permanent. Yes, there are risks to making permanent changes to the bite. However, if my only alternative is to be on muscle relaxers for the rest of my life because of the pain... then I will choose a bite alteration! Strangely enough, I had noticed a few years ago that my bottom teeth were turning in (my normal dentist told me that was common in people as they age). But, when i went to my TMJ specialist, I was told that my teeth turning in like that is correlated and a symptom of my TMJ. Sigh - you don't know what you don't know.

Finally - sorry rambling here - but I was told that TMJ popping and displacement can only occur after trama to the joint. So -wisdom teeth removal, a blow to the face or jaw, air bag deployment, falling down the stairs when you were a baby. That is what causes TMJ. I asked him about stress, and he said it could exacerbate the problem, but stress and grinding would not cause popping and displacement.

Good luck to you and please keep us posted on how you are doing!

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