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Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome

Question:

What treatment was effective for your TMJ? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: richfieldred, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: July 24

I have had TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) since I was 10 years old. I will soon be 63. At 12 the only treatment I knew about was braces. My jaw locked shut for 6 months when I was 17. Subsequently I had numerous equilibrations, chiropractic treatment, heat alternating with ice, numerous types of pain medications from NSAIDs, Darvocet to Dilaudid mixed with muscle relaxants specifically Flexeril. Flexeril works especially well for me and is evidently made for facial pain. Due to irreparable damage to the TMJ joints from so many years of problems, surgery became emergently necessary. I have since had 10 major surgeries for TMJ complications secondary to my jaws being the wrong size and width. This has necessarily had accompanying braces preparatory to surgery. I say all this to say that the dental team you choose is very important to the outcome you have, from your general dentist to orthodontist to maxillofacial surgeon. Further, the dental specialist you next see may or may not refer you to the best specialist for you. Do your homework about TMJ treatments, surgeries, and professional recommendations (plural) for what your next step might be. In reading some of people's comments, I would suggest further homework (beware and choose medical websites if surfing the web) regarding their dentist's qualifications, amount of TMJ-specific education, years of experience in TMJ treatment or surgeries (and how many types of treatments they offer as to which is most valuable to your needs), what is their experience compared to nationally known/ranked TMJ dental specialists. Always get a second (or even third) opinion. Even though my last surgery was by the best surgeon in the country and was a 'success', I live in constant pain, headache and muscle spasms. I live on disability due to the severity of the symptoms. If I had known, at the beginning of the multiple treatments and surgeries, what I know now perhaps this would not be my outcome. Please, as one who has been through the mill and back, do not take my word as gospel. This is only the opinion of a weary patient who does not want to see someone else go through a similar set of circumstances. I hope this is of some assistance to someone.

Comment from: emmelou, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 27

I first had temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction 3 years ago due to chewing too much gum and because I have depression and anxiety I tended to clench my teeth without even realizing I was doing it. I suffered for 3 weeks with what felt like I constantly had a burning hot poker shoved in my ear, my muscles all over the left side of my face, neck, shoulders and head would constantly spasm so it felt like my skull was being crushed from the inside. When I tried to sleep at night it felt like my jaw was dislocated. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life and that includes labor and birth. I got lucky when I finally saw my doctor that she had also experienced it herself and knew exactly what I was going through. I was put on muscle relaxers and pain relief which didn't do anything. What did help though was the list of physio stretches she gave me to do; although they took 2 weeks to work it completely went away and now if I ever start to get even the slightest niggle I start doing them again and have never had trouble since.

Comment from: kaite, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 20

I had lockjaw, and the help I got was acupuncture. That was 5 years ago, it has not locked since, but still aches now and then. But I would say the treatment for my TMJ was a success.

Comment from: linda1812, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 23

My x- ray says, with mouth closed, on both sides mandibular condyle does not appear to lie completely within the joint, although there is some movement on both sides on opening and closing. I don't have any idea what this means. My general physician has told me to ask my dentist as he doesn't know what it means. I have had problems with clicking for years but now the click has gone and it just grates, it's very painful all the time.

Comment from: Daddio7, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: September 07

Hopefully Renee will read this. My right ear drum is pulled in because my eustachian tube is stopped up. The pulled in eardrum causes infection that is very painful. I recently developed pain in my ear that was more severe when I chewed. My ear doctor confirmed that I did not have an infection. You should make sure it is TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) and not what I have. The infection will destroy the bones in your middle ear and damage your hearing.

Comment from: sredlady22, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 01

I have had TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) for a moth now. Two weeks ago the left side of my face just froze, I could not talk, or move it. I am in constant pain from my ear all the way down my neck. The doctor put me on muscle relaxers, all it does is dope me up, although the pain does go away for about 4 hours. I have gotten to the point where I don't think my family practitioner will give me any more relaxers. Due to having poor insurance there is nothing I can afford for the dentist to do for me. I am at a loss, I hope it goes away in time. I wear a night guard but it doesn't seem to help. I have begun biting on my tongue as well which leaves sores and welts on it where it hurts to eat.

Comment from: Inpain, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 28

I have had TMJ for just over 6 months. My symptoms were very broad. It started with severe dizziness which I thought was just vertigo for 3 months. I visited so many different doctors and was diagnosed with migraines, nasal infection (as indeed I had one), migraines, flu, tumor, the list goes on. I have seen 3 GPs, 2ENTs, 1 vestibular specialist, 1 neurologist, 2 TMJ specialists, 2 dentists and an allergist. I've been told that Botox can be a great solution and am now considering. I'm close to ending my career that I love which involves lots of driving and travelling which I am unable to do due to my conditions. I wish there was a cure for this terrible syndrome.

QUESTION

The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. See Answer
Comment from: mlsw, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 03

I have had TMJ since my twenties after a car accident. Icing helps much more than heat.

Comment from: Steve, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: May 01

TMJ has affected my ears. The results were severe tinnitus and vertigo. It got so bad hospitalization was required. I was finally referred to a specialist and after two cortisone shots and a lower tooth mouth guard, the condition has stabilized. I still have occasional ear pain, but the vertigo is gone. Funny thing is at no time have I had any jaw problems or pain. My doctor has told me that surgery in any TMJ case should be the last resort because it has a poor success rate.

Comment from: Laney, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: January 31

I am 58 years old and have had TMJ for quite a few years, but only the last 5 years has it gotten worse. Whenever I sing is when it flares up. When I have to hold a note for a while, my jaw locks up. It's so embarrassing. I get an instant headache. I have been to a chiropractor, but it didn't help at all. I have to move my jaw side to side to make it thru the song. It helps short term, but will have to give up singing.

Comment from: JO, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 24

I have had ear pain for 4 months. Was sent to an ENT. She said I had TMJ and I will have physical therapy on Friday. I also go to a chiropractor and he has been adjusting my jaw which has has helped. I no longer have the sharp pain.

Comment from: Jason, 35-44 Male Published: December 06

I just wanted to say thanks to those people on here that suggested seeing a chiropractor. I was diagnosed by my dentist with TMJ about 1.5 years ago and have been in pain since. I tried the usual splint, moist heat and pain killers without any results. After reading these posts I decided to tell my chiropractor about my TMJ diagnosis to see what he could suggest. Luck for me, he actually specializes in jaw adjustments. Within 10 minutes of him doing his magic I felt 95% better than I had in over a year and a half. I have since been back for 5 further treatments and I can't believe what a difference this has made. I'm pretty much back to normal. He adjusts my jaw, but also stretches the muscles in the lower jaw area by pressing his finger between my teeth and jaw bone. This is of course not a very technical description, but whatever he is doing works.

Comment from: Amy, 19-24 Male (Caregiver) Published: October 04

My fiance has had TMJ for 4 years. He is 23 and it takes over our lives.It is so sad that at such a young age his life if full of such chronic pain. He has been on every pain killer out there, worn mouth guards and even had the flushing out operation mentioned on this site. This did provide a small amount of temporary relief but he was soon back to his unbearable amounts of pain, we have recently moved to Perth from UK and we are seeking any new options for him here.

Comment from: Shannon, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 19

I was diagnosed with TMJ 2 years ago. I had a constant earache in both ears, so from Doctor to Ear Specialist who then referred me to a Maxillofacial Surgeon who confirmed it. Muscle Relaxants and Anti-inflammatory pills did nothing for the pain. I am currently on Hydrocodone which is the only pain killer that alleviates my ear, neck, jaw, and headaches. My medical insurance won't pay for the splint nor another consultation with a Maxillofacial Surgeon, so I am at the mercy of my general doctor. I do not want to be on pain killers for the rest of my life. Does anyone know if Botox works? What about surgical procedures?

Comment from: pshark1964, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 13

Ice helps me a lot more than heat, sometimes I think heat actually makes it more painful. My doctor has mentioned my ear drums are pulled back so maybe there is more going on than TMJ.

Comment from: Renee, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 22

I have been having problems with TMJ syndrome for about a year. I tried the mouth guard, didn't work. My doctor has me on mild muscle relaxers at night to stop the grinding & it has helped. I still get pain once to twice a month at least. Sounds stupid, but ice packs help me more than heat compresses. The article I read on this site says it is a temporary thing, the syndrome. But I really don't think it is. Doesn't seem like it's gonna go away.

Comment from: Meche in MN, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 10

I was diagnosed with TMJ when I was around 12. They had me wear mouth guards at night and four hours every day. Then I got braces and they kept my jaw banded together. None of it worked. I have constant pain in my jaws, eyes, neck, and constant migraines. I am at a 9 on the pain scale every day. I go to see a doctor again about this, but they never seem to do anything. My whole life has been taken over by this!

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Comment from: gzmogrl, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 31

Most TMJ joint area pain is from chronic bruxism. Mine was the silent clenching. I have had every scan, deviation study, orthotic, surgeries for jaws, ears, and nose. Any treatment you have heard of, I tried it. the majority of people with TMjoint area pain, nothing helped more than briefly (including Botox and muscle relaxants). But I kept up with the studies, and found an iPod sized unit for EMG and CES. I am convinced that no one should spend money until they use the most effective diagnostic of EMG studies. I like optional CES to stop the bruxing and disordered sleep. It gave me back some quality of life, which none of the other treatments did, even after I spent a house worth of money on the outdated stuff that still reigns on the internet and in USA dental offices. At least the Mayo Clinic and some other places with integrity admit that replacement is no substitute for stopping the pain. Google TMD, EMG, CES for the latest studies.

Comment from: Bobbin _, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 24

I go to the chiropractor often for my neck and they started adjusting my jaw. It does wonders.

Comment from: Jeannie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 26

Tried many, many treatments from ibuprofen to mouth guards, you name it nothing helped with this awful pain. I wanted to and quite often would just curl up in a ball and cry! Finally under the advice of coworker I went to see a chiropractor. What a MIRACLE these adjustments were on my jaw! The manual manipulations were uncomfortable at first HOWEVER instant relief (and still is) a miracle treatment for me and I would recommend to anyone who suffers from TMJ! Good Luck!

Comment from: sandrale, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 15

I am a 52 year old female and I been living with TMJ for over 20 years. I have no life because the pain never stops. The headaches never stop. The cold weather brings on the pain, the ear aches, and the pain that runs down my neck. The left side kills me all winter. I have to make myself go out sometimes, and the pain just brings me back home to my bed.

Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 11

I have had little relief from the botulism injections that my doctor has done. He has me on 15mg of Roxicodone every 6-8 hours combined with a mild muscle relaxer and that seems to help the pain subside. I still have pain but the meds he has me on are a definite help. I have also tried the mouth guards at night to help with jaw placement so I don't grind my teeth at night or clench my jaw. I read about a brace that can be implanted/placed and I will talk to my doctor about that option. This is a very helpful site and I am grateful to know I am not the only one out there suffering from chronic pain. It is hard for people who don't have TMJ to understand what we go through. Thanks again.

Comment from: jackie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 01

I have been treated for TMJ with the use of a splint. I've worn it for two and half months and I'm still in pain.

Comment from: 13-18 Female Published: March 04

Our 14 year old daughter has TMJ and is being treated by a TMJ specialist in Winnipeg. With retainers the problem has been fixed. However, after being weaned off of the retainers the problems have returned. Our next option is to have braces installed so her teeth can be moved around to manipulate the jaw bones. He has a 100% success rate so we are hoping this will solve the problems for good.

Comment from: tamm0449, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 10

I am 61 years old and have had TMJ since I was in my early 30s. The beginning pain was unbearable and I couldn't open my mouth very wide at all to eat or talk. Sometimes laughing was painful. I didn't go to a plastic surgeon until I was in my mid 50s and he suggested that he give me injections in the jaw joint of botulism with a very, very tiny diabetic needle. He put three injections of 15 units on each side in and around the muscle and the bone all the way in to the muscle. To my surprise the botulism worked miracles and completely relaxed my jaw muscles and I had no more pain or grinding of my teeth for a little over four months. I had severe eye pain and headaches before from the TMJ and now I am pain free. The Dr. could only promise me 3 months of relief but it lasted much longer than that. It is now time to make another appointment which I intend to do today. Call around where you live and find a good plastic surgeon and ask if he will give you botulism shots in your TMJ points. You will be glad that you did and wish that you had heard of this relief sooner. Good luck, now go make a phone call for relief.

Comment from: Matty, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 14

I tried a mouth guard, bio-feedback, hypnosis, hot compresses with NO success. I then inadvertently used a mild prescription muscle relaxant when the symptoms appeared and it seemed to have stopped the spasms. Once the spasms abated, the pain and sensitivity started to get weaker and then I had fewer spasms. My doctor also advised taking an OTC medication like naproxen or ibuprofen to calm the inflammation in the jaw joint. It works!

Comment from: lady, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: July 20

Hi, I am now 68 years old. My doctor gave me a 50mg minocycline three days a week for inflammation and a mild muscle relaxant when my pain is unbearable. I have TMJ problems on my left side only. I do not clench or grind my teeth. I swear that when I was young the dentist forced my mouth too wide to work on a molar on the left side, I remember my jaw popped and was very painful and swollen. My jaw has popped since. As I have gotten older it has gotten worse and worse. I am going to see an oral, face and neck surgeon in Cabo Mexico (he was trained in Canada), and see if he can help me. I know a couple of people who had the surgery and they are doing well after 1.5 years. Does anyone know someone who has had this surgery?

Comment from: obelaine, 55-64 Female (Caregiver) Published: April 12

My TMJ caused chronic sinusitis as well as lower jaw immobility. The best treatment that I found was an Ortho-Bionomy session. My sinusitis has been gone for 10 years now and my jaw has most of the mobility back with very little discomfort.

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