The Nature of The Beast
I have TMD (commonly but incorrectly referred to as TMJ). My jaw is so tight that it causes me to get headaches and tight shoulders. About 98% of the time I have a dull all encompassing headache. On top of that I get sharper, intense headaches generally on a daily basis. They vary in degree of intensity, the most painful are the migraines that are sensitive to light, moving and noise. I have had this problem for more than ten years.
How I Found Out What It Was
My general doctors (I had two) could not determine what it was. My first doctor looked into diabetes and other blood related problems. My second doctor just wanted to give me pills to mask the symptoms. They both had my eyes checked. The second time I got them checked they said that I needed glasses. I thought it was a brain tumor for awhile. My mom thought maybe it was hormone related. Then last summer I found out on my own that it was really TMD (temporal mandibular joint disorder), a tightness of the jaw muscles. It was a huge relief just to know what it was!
Rules I Live By
Treatments for TMD
- Jaw surgery is costly and takes a LONG time to heal from. My bones did not need reconstruction, so surgery was not necessarily. (Sigh of relief)
- I ended up getting Botox shots in my jaw a month ago while we were in DC. I was VERY hesitant to do this because isn't Botox for vain, crazy, rich, or famous people? I didn't feel I fit that stereotype. Botox weakens the jaw muscles causing them to be less tight. After doing a LOT of research it seemed to be a great option for me. (I'll write more details in my next post.)
- I also got a better night guard, special for teeth grinders. I wear it at night and around the house during the day. It helps especially at night when I am grinding my teeth, which makes my jaw tight. Night guards help retrain the jaw muscles to stay open and not clamped together
- I also have tried several alternative medicine type methods such as EFT, cleanses, self-hypnosis, Chinese medicine techniques, chiropractic, miotechnic massage, specialty yoga, healthier eating, physical therapy, meditation, etc. I am still trying to work several of these into my daily life.
Living With It Now
I still have a dull constant headache all day long. My intense headaches have been more manageable though. My jaw muscles are definitely not as tight or strong because of the Botox. And my jaw placement has improved because of the better night guard.