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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.

Jennifer

  • Mar 2, 2017
It all started with extensive orthodontic work in my early teens--fast forward 20 years and it has consumed my entire life. Last October, I had to have a failed root canal pulled and nothing would ever be the same for me. Five months ago for no apparent reason I had the most severe flare-up where the pain was so unbearable I couldn't think of going on. I couldn't speak, eat, sleep, work, drink or function. I tried medical cupping on my jaw and after several sessions there was slight improvement. Unfortunately I never went back to "my normal" again. I've seen dentists, oral surgeons, acupuncturists, had medical cupping and now I'm trying physical therapy. A neuromuscular dentist wanted to charge me $6,000 to start for very invasive work, which in 5 months I would find out if it worked at all. That was too much of a gamble for me.
 
I feel completely and utterly alone as I suffer, any joy being sucked out of my life. It affects my right side more than the left. The pain is unbearable, stabbing in my ear, face, jaw, head and neck. The right side of my face goes numb from the TMJ since it's irritating the Trigeminal Nerve. My neck, jaw and face are in constant spasm; also my neck has started jerking to the right. I spend a lot of time not being able to speak mainly just nodding my head.
 
I used to really love eating but now my TMJ has changed that. I have to eat what's soft whether I like it or not. All my meals/snacks are dictated by what my jaw will and won't allow. I used to love fresh bagels, pizza crusts, hamburgers and subs among other things. Those foods I'll never enjoy again. Sushi is also a favorite but now is cut up into small pieces as I ever so slowly push the food in my mouth. I make constant compromises; do I want to talk that day or eat? Eating is so painful that many times I either spit food out because of pain or I'm almost choking because I can't chew properly. Most of the time I starve because eating isn't an option or if I can eat, I try to eat as much as I can to sustain me for longer periods of time. Going out to eat really isn't an option either since I have a difficult time actually getting food in my mouth, it's very awkward.
 
I spend a lot of time depressed, in immense pain not knowing how I'll get through every day. The pain I can't escape not even in sleep. My speech has also changed as I slur, hoping people understand me. The pain-killers and muscle relaxants no longer help. Besides the severe TMJ I'm also epileptic and for extra fun throw in fibromyalgia. As I sit here writing this my family is enjoying a movie laughing and relaxing while the right side of my face is numb and in pain (if that makes sense) my neck is jerking and my eyes are filling up with tears. The condition has taken over and happy feelings are fleeting. I could go on and on about all I go through; sorry for the rambling. I pray for all of us that doctors will find ways to better help us and treat this awful disease. I would love to know what a life not affected by TMJ would be like.