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  • My Experience & Frustration With TMJ: Slowly Improving

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    Old 05-22-2016, 09:56 AM   #1
    Biel
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    Post My Experience & Frustration With TMJ: Slowly Improving

    Sorry this is so long. I'm writing this to describe my own experiences just in case it might prove useful to someone down the line.

    When I first started having TMJ symptoms about 6 months ago, I was optimistic that the problem would clear up quickly. I was 26 at the time, currently 27. But the more I read about other sufferers, the more depressing the long term prospects seem.

    My problems started with a bang last November: lockjaw, intense pain, and swelling on both sides of my face. I noticed the first symptoms after I was sick with a fever/cold. After a lot of thinking, I believe my jaw was damaged due to excessive bubble gum chewing. Like to the point of my jaw being really tired. Looking back, I know how stupid it was and I wish I could go back in time and change it. It's frustrating because I only have myself to blame for all my pain now.

    So when I first experienced symptoms, I was miserable and it was hard to convey how I felt to my family and friends. Talking and laughing excessively exacerbated my problems so I limited social engagements. This was during the holiday season, so not being able to enjoy my family and the food was really depressing. Having people ask me what was wrong only stressed me out more. It all came to a head when I yelled at my sister in the middle of a store after she asked me what was wrong for the hundredth time. Then I burst into tears in front of everyone in the store. It was awful. But she was really understanding and I felt a lot better afterward.

    Communicate how you're feeling with your family and friends--or better yet, designate one friend or family member to explain to the others, so you don't have to repeat yourself over and over.

    One of the catch-22s with TMJ is that I wanted to vent about it, I wanted to cry because of the stress of it--but doing so made my jaw feel worse. I had to find other ways to relieve that tension. Low impact exercise like yoga or walking. Writing in a journal. Taking bubble baths. Practicing mindful breathing when I feel especially overwhelmed by everything.

    For a while, it felt like my symptoms would never improve. It was hard to eat and I was losing weight. Smoothies are a godsend. Also began drinking Ensure nutritional shakes to get my vitamins and extra calories. After taking muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories for months and seeing a chiropractor, plus taking extreme care with my diet, I have noticed improvement.

    My muscles, which were in tight little balls, have relaxed almost to normal. The swelling in my face is gone. Instead of having intense daily pain in my joints, to the point that I wanted to cry, I now have more moderate pain maybe once or twice a week. I just started wearing a splint at night a few days ago and am hopeful it will continue to help me improve.

    The muscle relaxers made me continually sleepy and depressed, but thankfully I no longer need to take them. I feel more like myself without them. I still take anti-inflammatories daily.

    That said, my dentist has told me that once the joint is damaged, it is damaged permanently. The thought that I might have to deal with this for the rest of my life is still scary and overwhelming--and according to my dentist, I suffer from minimal symptoms. I can't imagine how hard it is for those who have worse symptoms than I do.

    If you are just noticing symptoms, what you want to do now is minimize the damage. You can start feeling better, but try to be patient.

    Find a doctor or dentist who has experience in TMJ as soon as you can. I found mine through a google search. Get plenty of rest and take care with your diet. Try to relax as much as possible (easier said than done, I know.) If you can afford it, find a chiropractor who is knowledgeable in TMJ treatments.

    In addition to my anti-inflammatories, I also use topical, natural treatments. Arnica gel over the joints when they're sore. I massage lavender oil over my jaw daily as well--it is relaxing and has analgesic properties. Be safe and ask your doctor or chiropractor if these would interfere with any of your other medications first.

    I had trouble finding a TMJ dentist in Nebraska, so I'm sharing who I'm currently seeing: Dentistry for Your Health in Omaha has dentists who are experienced in TMJ care. My chiropractor, who has had TMJ herself, is at Essentials Family Chiropractic in Papillion.

    Feel free to vent or discuss your own problems in the comments.

     
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    Old 05-23-2016, 11:18 AM   #2
    Rayman1968
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    Re: My Experience & Frustration With TMJ: Slowly Improving

    What were the muscle relaxers they gave you?

     
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    Old 05-23-2016, 11:29 AM   #3
    Biel
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    Re: My Experience & Frustration With TMJ: Slowly Improving

    Chlorzoxazone 500mg 4Xdaily

     
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    Old 05-23-2016, 11:45 AM   #4
    Rayman1968
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    Re: My Experience & Frustration With TMJ: Slowly Improving

    Thanks.

    I'm currently dealing with a displaced articular disc on my left side. Can't chew. Cant 'eat. Can't even find a doctor locally to treat it.

    Really sucks...

     
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    Old 05-23-2016, 12:44 PM   #5
    Biel
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    Re: My Experience & Frustration With TMJ: Slowly Improving

    That sounds really frustrating. I hope the people in your life are being understanding of how difficult this is for you.

     
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