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TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint board

Hello... new here, obviously. :) I have a few questions regarding some symptoms I'm having...

First of all, I've had TMJ all my life (I think, anyway.. I still haven't yet had an official diagnosis). For as long as I can remember, I've always had restrictions as to how far I could open my mouth, and if I opened it any farther, my jaw would make a loud popping sound. Pain never has, and still has not, accompanied the popping sound.

Two and a half years ago, I went to the orthodontist for braces. I told him about the popping in my jaw and he told me it was most likely TMJ, and my braces may make the symptoms worse. That's all he told me, however. He never checked me out, told me to see a specialist, or anything.

Throughout the time I had my braces on, I'd experience sharp pains in my head. Not very often... but very randomly. I never worried, though, because the pain would go away in a matter of minutes. Toward the end of my time with braces on, however, the pains got worse. Sharp, shooting pains, usually in my left temple, but sometimes on the top or in the back of my head. One time, I went to the emergency room because I was sure I was having a stroke or an aneurysm... they said I was fine, though, and attributed the pain to a mere headache that was blown out of proportion due to my panic disorder, gave me some Valium, and sent me home with a prescription for Xanax.

Since that time, I've had my braces removed and I've been seeing a therapist about my panic disorder. Things were going fine... I'd occasionally have a sharp pain in my head now and then, but I told myself I was all right and I'd live through it.

Lately, though... the popping in my jaw has gotten a lot worse, and sometimes the muscles in my mouth begin to feel exhausted while I'm eating. Yesterday, I felt lightheaded after exercising, and later that night, I had a horrible, shooting pain in my left temple that lasted a few minutes. Afterward, I felt lightheaded again and, of course because of my paranoia, the first thing I thought of was "Aneurysm!" My mom assured me I was all right, but today, once more after exercising, I felt bad. It started as a dull tingle on the left side of my face. As soon as that went away, I had a series of sharp pains in the top region of my head. The pain has been present on and off throughout the day. Usually after the pain, I feel pressure in my forehead and sinus region. This pressure has been almost constant since the first bout pain after exercising today.

I'm not sure if this is related at all, but I figured it was worth mentioning: since I've gotten my braces off, I've had a couple instances of some type of sleep paralysis. I'll be awake, feeling confused, and won't be able to move. I usually fall back to sleep, but it'll happen a few more times before I wake up fully. I had my braces removed around the same time I started taking Xanax for my panic disorder, however, so I'm not sure if this is a separate problem.

Anyway... my goodness, sorry for being so long-winded... are these symptoms at all common among others with TMJ? Should I be looked at for other things? Possibly have a CT scan or MRI? Any advice or reassurance would be wonderful... I'm a rather paranoid person, but my pain is real. :)