njc2007 (njc2007) wrote,

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TMJ or not TMJ

Back in March, I had a terrible pain in my left ear every time I yawned. I went to my trusty physician who said it was TMJ ( temporomandibular joint dysfunction, sometimes known as TMD). I argued with him and said my jaw didn't hurt, just my ear and I think it is an ear infection. He sent me away and told me it should clear up on its own if I ate soft foods.

So, a few months later, I go back and tell him it hasn't cleared up. My ear still hurts. He looks at it again and, again, diagnoses probably TMJ. Because of my argument, he also referred me to an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specialist.

While waiting for the specialist appointment, I did some research on TMJ and made an appointment to see my dentist. Apparently, dental pain can cause similar symptoms and I wanted to prove my doctor wrong.

I saw the specialist last week and I saw my dentist yesterday. When I next see my family doctor, I'll have to eat some crow because he was/is right. I have to admit, based on ruling things out and based on my further research, that I have TMJ/TMD.

The dentist recommended a mouth guard for when I'm sleeping to keep me from clenching my teeth. Only problem is that I don't clench my teeth at night. I clench when I am wide awake and functioning during the day. Sleep is probably the only time my jaw relaxes. The more I concentrate on trying to relax my jaw, the tighter it gets. As soon as I consciously try to relax, I yawn. I need to learn how to relax my jaw without yawning. Yawning stretches the already stressed muscles and causes more pain.

I suspect this is a temporary thing. My bite felt funny back in March and seems to have fixed itself. I think I just need to rest the muscles and all will be well. So, hot compresses on the joint and soft/liquid foods will have to suffice for a while. Oh well, I think I can cope with wine and ice cream, just not together.
Tags: tmj

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