I’ve mentioned before that I have a chronic TMJ disorder. It’s been about 2 and a half years since the problem started, so I am definitely no stranger to the pain. However, that doesn’t make it any easier to handle. I’m frustrated and discouraged because I feel like I’ve tried everything and nothing has worked.
Here’s a breakdown of everything I’ve tried:
Advil, Tylenol, Robaxacet, and Aleve.
Diclophenac (pills as well as an external gel version), Naproxen, Tylenol #1, Tylenol #3, Gabapentin, and a muscle relaxant I can’t remember the name of.
Other non-drug at-home options:
An essential oil blend, a night guard, Dr. Ho’s pain therapy system, ice packs, and heating pads.
Professional treatments and tests I’ve had done:
Massage, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, physiotherapy, a CT scan, and several x-rays.
Professionals I’ve seen:
Three doctors, one maxillofacial specialist, two physiotherapists, one acupuncturist/chiropractor, and one dentist.
Professionals I’m still waiting to see:
A neurologist (to see if it’s partially related to nerve pain) and an oral surgeon (to remove my wisdom teeth which could potentially relieve some pain).
I can’t eat anything that requires chewing or opening my mouth wide (basically everything except soup and smoothies).
I can’t chew gum, sing loudly, laugh too much, or even yawn with my mouth open.
I often have to take days off work because I’m just in too much pain to function.
Unfortunately, TMJ disorders slip through the cracks in the medical community. Very few doctors specialize in it, and some doctors even believe there is no way to cure it. In my experience, I’ve had to proactively ask for specific referrals and treatments because my doctor has just prescribed more and more medications to help mask the pain.
Often, there is no real reason for one person to have a TMJ disorder while another person does. Some TMJ disorders can be caused by trauma to the joint, and others can be brought on simply by stress.
TMJ disorders suck, and I wish I could end this post with a happy “I used to have one, but I’ve been cured!” kind of attitude. But, unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. I’m going to have to continue struggling with this for the foreseeable future. I’ll keep going to doctors and specialists. I’ll keep trying this and trying that. Maybe one day I’ll wake up without pain but for now, this is the hand I’ve been dealt.
I don’t know if anyone who reads my blog has struggled with this or not, but I’d like to reach out and ask anyway:
If you have a TMJ disorder, what are some of the things you do to alleviate the pain? What treatments have been beneficial to you?