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TMJ RoundTable Update - June 2017

From the time of the June 16, 2016 meeting, until last month, progress has been slow. However, over the past couple of months we have the following accomplishments to share with you.

Pain Drawings: An Important Tool for Health Care Practitioners

Last year we shared with you a study in which investigators found patients with more severe and chronic TMD are likely to experience other persistent pain conditions in other parts of the body, seemingly unrelated to problems in the jaw or face. Yet patients often do not mention these "overlapping" or "comorbid" pain conditions when they see a dentist or health care provider.

Primary Temporomandibular Disorders and Comorbid Conditions

The aim of this study is to evaluate the distribution of the most common comorbid conditions associated with chronic temporomandibular disorders, and the pharmacological agents which play an integral role in the overall management of temporomandibular joint disorders. Abstract: INTROD

Overdiagnosis and Unnecessary Therapy

Many dental practitioners continue to use radiographic or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) as the sole means of establishing that there is a pathology present that requires treatment.

TMD Self-Management Programs

Self-management (SM) programs in temporomandibular disease (TMD) are a core component of pain management of TMD throughout its course and are often given to patients as a first essential step after diagnosis.

Amy

  • May 4, 2016

While it is difficult to pinpoint, I can generally say that my journey with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) started after my pregnancy when I was 20. I was already dealing with chronic back pain and a few other "injuries" that seemed to never heal. I really began noticing jaw pain after I had my daughter. My good days consisted of eating a lot of pasta with well-cooked vegetables and no meat because the meat was too hard to chew. On bad days, I couldn't eat anything solid without pain and had a headache that debilitated me for the rest of the day. I would go days eating only broth, plain yogurt, and mashed potatoes. I have always been amazed at how tiring it is to be in pain constantly. Even if I wasn't hurting too much, I still had no energy. I remember feeling so bad that I often couldn't play with my toddler. The first five to six years of her life were like this. As a result my daughter, now eight years old, is quite independent.

About four years ago, I was involved in a minor motorcycle accident [while riding as a passenger,] and my right hip was displaced and required physical therapy. I completed the physical therapy but was still in a lot of pain. After my doctor saw the pain that I was still feeling, he told me that my hip looked good, my mobility was back, and I shouldn't be in very much pain anymore. That is what prompted him to start looking into fibromyalgia. I was soon diagnosed and prescribed Gabapentin (Neurontin). The medication gave my life back to me. I have been taking it for the last three years or so. This medication not only helped with the widespread body pain, but also with the TMD pain, though I still have some functional issues with my jaw locking.

My advice to anyone dealing with jaw pain, or any chronic pain, is to try to look at the positive side of life; keep trying to find a doctor who won't look down or dismiss you. After seeing a number of doctors, I found a wonderful primary care physician. Keep trying non-invasive things that you think may help. I wish I could say they will work, but they're worth trying. In the long run, they may lead you to finding things that help!  Amy

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Last month Amy responded to our Facebook page post in which we asked for a TMD patient who would be willing to be interviewed for a magazine article on Fibromyalgia. Thank you, Amy, for volunteering! The NIH MedlinePlus magazine has a very large audience and will generate a greater awareness about TMD. You can read Amy's interview in the Spring 2016 issue of NIH MedlinePlus which is available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/spring16/articles/spring16pg22-23.html


In Treating TMJ

To view or order a free booklet about TMJ Disorders, visit the National Institutes of Health website.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Office of Research on Women's Health