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Update on TMJD/jaw pain

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I've been updating my progress (or lack of progress) on a TMJD SP group page, but I realized I haven't updated here since I was "diagnosed."

The last month and a half have been mostly a nightmare for me. The high doses of ibuprofen only took away the worst of the pain, so at the end of my doctor's instructed 20 days of 800mg three times per day, I asked to be put on prednisone. Holy relief! After the first dose, I felt better and by the end of the 6 day treatment, I had almost no pain at all. (I was seeing my chiropractor all the while, and he said I was really improving. My jaw was misaligned at first, but is okay now.)

After I stopped taking the ibuprofen, the pain slowly came back. Within a week, I was back to where I started. My chiropractor didn't understand it because my jaw felt okay. I went back to see my family doctor and they referred me to ENT (Ears, Nose Throat), and told me to use warm and cold compresses (which, obviously, do nothing to help the pain). I called ENT and they informed me they don't treat TMJ, that it's Oral Surgery that I need, and they didn't have an opening until March!

I called my doctor back and they found an appointment in January for me. After bugging them, they also put me back on prednisone, a 12-day treatment this time. I researched the "TMJ specialist" they found for me. Turns out he specializes in sleep disorders, like apnea, CPAP and snoring. He does have TMJ on his website, but it says, "Info coming soon." His feature article on his website is entitled, "Snoring isn't sexy." I decided to cancel the appointment.

My sister-in-law is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, at their dental school. I asked her for help and she gave me the name of a really good specialist who is used to dealing with "odd" cases that other doctors can't figure out. Only problem is, he doesn't have an opening until February.

So now I just have to wait. In the meantime, my chiropractor is convinced I have a bad sinus infection. I made yet another appointment with my family doctor's assistant who only did a visual inspection and said she couldn't find any sign of infection.

I talked to my aunt, and she said it sounded like it could also be a problem with my trigeminal nerve. Some googling brought me to "Trigeminal Neuralgia" which looks to be possibly the worst pain disorder imaginable... I hope I don't have it! One of the symptoms is excruciating facial pain. While most of my pain is a constant burning or pressure, I did get one instance that lasted about 1-2 minutes of excruciating pain radiating up through my sinuses (only on the right side, the same side as all my current pain) earlier this week. It happened while I was driving to work and I almost went straight to the ER, but it passed and hasn't happened since.

It seems like one spot triggers a lot of the pain, it's in between one of my front teeth and the tooth next to it. If something cold hits that spot, holy cow! The pain shoots up through my face. While I had the pain when driving, I opened my mouth and the air made it hurt more!

I just want answers and relief! For now, I'm taking prednisone which helps a lot with the pain, and I'm just trying to make it until my doctor appointment in February (two days after my birthday, no less).

It's been a really rough year, dealing with the loss of my Mom last fall and then my mother-in-law's passing in the Summer of 2013. I don't need this pain on top of everything else. I swear, if I ever won a ton of money in the lottery (which won't happen, because I don't play), I'd first pay off my student loans, then donate the rest to some kind of medical research, like diabetes, MS or pain disorders. No one deserves to live like this!
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