WHAT IS TMJd? - My disability caused by a careless driver

I am frequently asked to explain what my painful disorder is.

You may have heard of others saying they have clicking or popping in their jaw - and that is what you associate TMJ with. Well, that is only a MILD case of what I have. Mine is a very extreme and very serious case. So serious that others have committed suicide over the daily and incurable pain.

In simple terms - my Discs's are out of place.
We all have a disc on each side of our faces, immediately in front of our ears. This disc provides a cushioning effect in between where the lower jaw connects to our skull. Because both of my (left / right) discs are "out of place" - I AM LEFT WITH BARE BONES RUBBING. Over the past 4 years, it has turned arthritic.

My TMJ's are dis-placed as a result from the way my head banged off the windshield and was tossed around the car.

My jaw is also mis-aligned from the crashes.
- now my mouth and TMJ's are grossly mis-aligned.
It has caused misalignment's in other areas of the body, such as the spine, shoulders, hips, and ankles. The body’s effort to compensate for a misalignment in the cranium, causes misalignment's elsewhere and puts a great deal of stress on the muscles of the face, head, neck and back.

Below, I am going to try my hardest to explain this complex and misunderstood disability. I will add photos and diagrams as well. (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them)

"The pain can become so severe that patients have been known to commit suicide due to chronic facial pain." - Dr. Gary Boling, D.D.S

What is TMJ ?

A. TMJ = Temporomandibular Joint.
B. The TMJ’s are the joints that connect the lower jaw (Mandible) to the skull.
C. They are very important joints in the body because they are active in chewing, talking, swallowing, and any other motion involving the mouth and face.

Temporo-Mandibular Joint
Temporo' - refers to the temple bone of the skull
Mandibular - refers to the lower jaw (i.e., the mandible)
Joint - is where the two meet, just in front of the ear canal

The Temporo-Mandibular Joint is a complicated, poorly understood network of nerves, muscles, cartilage, fluids and bone. It is also one of the most complex joints in the body, performing multiple, vital functions.

  1. The temporo-mandibular joints are Joints located on either side of the face that connect the lower jaw to the skull.

  2. The joints work in synergy with the facial bones and multiple pairs of muscles to allow opening and closing of the mouth & forward, backward, rotational and side-to-side movements of the lower jaw.

  3. Any disturbance of the perfect facial balance can trigger the TMJ disorder pain cycles

  4. Affecting muscles and joints on ALL areas of the face, neck & back.

  5. When muscles & joints are not working together, muscle spasms occur - producing pain and dysfunction.

  6. With TMJd, Muscles in the face, neck & back are working constantly - EVEN DURING SLEEP - causing them to become overworked - leading to muscle fatigue, spams and inflammation.

TO THE RIGHT:That is a diagram of every muscle that is attacked/affected by the TMJd (Temporo-Mandibular Joint Disorder).Every time that my TMJd flares up, I experience a blow up of intense pain in everyone of those muscles! Everything from the shoulders & up is greatly tormented.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jaw, called the mandible, to the temporal bone at the side of the head. If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, you can feel the joint on each side of your head. Because these joints are flexible, the jaw can move smoothly up and down and side to side, enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control its position and movement.

When we open our mouths, the rounded ends of the lower jaw, called condyles, glide along the joint socket of the temporal bone. The condyles slide back to their original position when we close our mouths. To keep this motion smooth, a soft disc lies between the condyle and the temporal bone. This disc absorbs shocks to the TMJ from chewing and other movements.

Today, researchers generally agree that temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) fall into three main categories:

  • myofascial pain, the most common form of TMD, which is discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function and the neck and shoulder muscles;
  • internal derangement of the joint, meaning a dislocated jaw or displaced disc, or injury to the condyle;
  • generative joint disease, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw joint.

Some Symptoms ( I have 99% of these):
*pain in the face, *neck, or *back, *migraine or *generalized headaches, *eye problems, *sinus trouble, *hearing loss, *earaches, *clogging or *ringing in the ears, *visual and *motor incoordination, *learning disability, *low energy level, *any pain or joint noises in the jaw area, *difficulty swallowing, *dental distress, *bruxism, *tingling or numbness in the arms, hands or fingers, and a *myriad of problems dealing with the spine and structure.

Malocclusion = “bad bite”
It usually stems from a malformation, degradation, or displacement of the TMJ’s. Misaligned bites will cause misalignment's in other areas of the body, such as the spine, shoulders, hips, and ankles. The body’s effort to compensate for a misalignment in the cranium, causes misalignment's elsewhere and puts a great deal of stress on the muscles of the face, head, neck and back.

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It is unreal when I stop to think that prior to 10/12/2004, I never knew what "debilitating" physical pain was. I never knew TMJd existed and most importantly my husband & I lived a carefree, fruitful and exciting life in the glamorous city of Las Vegas, NV. Just home visiting Buffalo, NY and an elderly driver fails to yield, causing a car crash that has FOREVER changed the course of mine & my husbands life.

My car crashes caused a SEVERE disability of TMJd and I now live in a chronic and debilitating state of pain. At any unexpected moment, I can be shut down for weeks! This disorder is only comparable to living in a nightmare and has proved devastating in many ways. When speaking to others who live with this, the devastation is all the same!

I AM NOT ALONE!!! There are 10 million + people in the United States suffering from TMJ problems at any given time. Both men and women experience it; however, 90% of those seeking treatment are women in their childbearing years.

PAIN WORSE THAN CHILDBIRTH : I have communicated with thousands of others undergoing the same condition. Woman who have given birth explained that the pain caused by TMJd is WORSE than the time(s) they gave birth. Imagine that, enduring something on a consistent basis that is worse than the pain caused by child birth. When Doug and I start our family - it should be a breeze for us! LOL....there is the only plus of this disorder!

NO SCIENCE! There is an extreme lack of basic and clinical science in the field of TMJ diseases and disorders, Therefore, there is no established standards for dental/medical school education. Treatments available today are based largely on beliefs, not on scientific evidence which has created 50+ treatments with NO guarantee. (a few are : botox injections to paralyze and numb some of the muscles in your face, arthrocentesis, surgery, bite guards or splints, grinding down your teeth to adjust your occlusion all of which are irreversible treatments and can do more harm than any possible good)

It boggles my mind that over 10 million people in the USA live with an incredibly debilitating nightmare within their Temporo-Mandibular Joints. A nightmare that steals what abilities we as adults take for granted - Eating, Chewing, Swallowing, Smiling, Hearing, Kissing, Talking, Breathing, Sleeping and much more. Imagine having that stolen from you at any given, unexpected moment. AND THEN be told that there is no science behind it, no cure and NOTHING to alleviate the pain. THE only reference you get is to seek a specialist who specifically treats cancer as they will understand the level of pain experienced. LASTLY, it is emphasized that pharmacological strategies and therapies need to be utilized to alleviate TMJ-related pain. THAT IS MY LIFE - I HAVE TRIED EVERY NON-INVASIVE PROCEDURE AND 4 years later I am still forced to awake at 4 am in gut wrenching pain and my husband forcing me to take high doses of morphine!

mORE DETAILS TO COME IN THE FUTURE..............................
This is about all I can write for now....................................


Anonymous said...

I, too, am a TMJD sufferer. After a terrible car wreck, then child birth 9 months later, it wasn't until my daughter was 2 (now 26) that I was first diagnosed with TMJD by my physician. I was referred to my dentist who then made my first "bite guard." In the past 10 years, however, the pain stemming from this disorder, at times, has made me consider suicide. Trying to work a full-time office job is UNBEARABLE, at best. ANY stress makes the disorder worse. Literally, 7 years of constant pain, thousands of dollars spent in trying to get rid of the pain (dentists, myofacial specialists, chiropractors, osteopathic doctors, MRI's, neurosurgeons) and I still am a daily sufferer.

I only wish more attention was paid to this very disabling disease.