Read the Latest News

Educational Brochures on Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions

This brochure addresses what are Chronic Overlapping Pain Conditions (COPCs), how COPCs are diagnosed, the complexity of the chronic pain experience, and how to work with your health care provider to develop a treatment plan. It is available by postal ma

Study Highlights TMD Evidence and Current Practice Gaps

The TMJ Association has long championed the need for strong evidence-based demonstrations of the safety and efficacy of TMD diagnostics and treatments. Sad to say, as the following journal article indicates, even among a network of research-oriented practices, dental providers are still resorting to such TMD treatments as occlusal adjustments in which teeth are irreversibly moved, ground down, or in other ways altered, a treatment for which there is no scientific evidence of efficacy.

Beware of Ticks and Lyme Disease

We are currently in the peak season for Lyme disease. Each year at this time we highlight this topic because we have heard from a number of patients over the years who were misdiagnosed and underwent unnecessary TMD treatments when they actually had Lyme

#*!"@!**! ... May Help Your Pain... and Improve Strength!

Our headline is adopting the comic strip convention of using symbols to denote swear words because we are intrigued by a report that swearing may have some health benefits.

Predictors of Opioid Efficacy for Chronic Pain Patients

Opioids are increasingly used for treatment of chronic pain. However, they are only effective in a subset of patients and have multiple side effects. Thus, studies using biomarkers for response are highly warranted.

Beth's Story

  • May 13, 2015

After injuries to my jaw, from years of falling off green and problem horses, a couple of bad spills left me with excruciating ear and neck pain.  After seeing numerous specialists, I was diagnosed with a TMJ dysfunction and began splint treatment with an orthodontist.  After a couple splints, braces, and a lot of physical therapy, I was better. Then I fell off another horse. My equilibrium was still off. Another round of splint therapy didn’t work as well so I was referred to a surgeon. My opening was in the single digits.

In 1985, while in grad school, I had my first surgery where silastic sheeting was used to help protect the joint for the first several months afterwards.  The silastic was supposed to be temporary but when they tried to pull it out, one broke into pieces – so back into the operating room to get the pieces removed.   I had several arthroscopic surgeries to clear scar tissue from the joints.   With the degeneration, I had various grafts to improve function.  Muscle flap and ear cartilage were tried, but they quickly fell apart.   My jaw joints fused and the surgeon I had wouldn’t do anything. 

After a bleak discussion with my jaw doctor, and having finished an MBA, I decided to get involved with horses again, but this time small equines, because I was tired of putting all my money into medical bills.  I bought Town & Country’s Colorful Cat, “Cat,” in March of 1997, just before he turned two years old.  He was the second small American Shetland Pony I put with a trainer in Indiana for the 1997 show season.  That year, 1997, Cat won numerous halter grand champions at various shows around the country, including the National Congress Grand Champion for Classic Shetland Stallions.  Then he was awarded the 1997 Classic Halter Pony of the Year and National All-Star Champion.  I was so proud, and it was nice having someone else do the work involved.  I bonded with Cat every time I visited, spending as much time as possible with him.   Even though it was months between visits, he still whinnied and came to me when I arrived at the farm.

In 1998, I found a surgeon to reconstruct my joints using skull bone (which only lasted a year.)  The following year he put in bilateral metal joints that have been in place for 12 years.  During this time, I was told that my jaw was probably not a problem to begin with.  More than likely, I had an untreated cervical injury.  A tough thought to swallow, but at this point it’s only a theory. 

When Cat was 4, I lost my job and had to sell my ponies.  After joining General Electric, I started inquiring about Cat and found he had been through an auction and was in bad shape.  Research, phone calls, etc., I was able to buy Cat back and have him shipped to a trainer in Pennsylvania.  He had been gelded, his tail had been docked (by an amateur), and he was skinny.  My trainer and his family brought back the sparkle in Cat’s eyes and into show shape, building up his trust and calming his fears.  Cat went on to win three Classic Roadster National Congress Grand Champions. 

At one point, I sent Cat to the New Bolton Center (University of PA) because I thought he had a pain problem that no one else saw. Dr. McDonald saw it right away and documented it. Then she got a surgeon to fix his tail.

Cat is home now, boarded at a local stable. My family considers him as part of the family and not an investment.  We dabble in the show scene now and then, but mostly to catchup with old friends. Cat, my dog Gracie, and now my new pony, “Joe,” bring a lot of joy, pride, and at times relaxation to my life.  They take my mind off troubles and make me look at what’s really important in life.  Adversity comes with life.  Its how we learn to deal with it that really makes the difference. Medical stuff can make one crazy, but, for me, pets bring peace and perspective. For me, it’s the right balance. Cat is a pony with a lot of heart, and he definitely got mine.   He demonstrates courage daily, and passes it on. I feel blessed to have him.

My jaw story is not over.  It’s been 30 plus years, 13 surgeries, more than $300,000 in medical bills, a limited opening (12 – 15 mm), chronic pain, several bleeding ulcers from medication, and now chronic sinus infections and sleep apnea. All the surgeries have left scar tissue in my nose from the nasal intubation. I need surgery to fix my nose and throat but because of my limited jaw opening, the standard oral intubation is out of the question. The current challenge is to find a comfortable CPAP mask.

©2015 The TMJ Association, Ltd. All rights