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TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint Message Board

TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint Board Index

Hi JenPlus2,

I know that dealing with this TMJ stuff can be extremely frustrating. It is made even worse since there really isn't a "specialty" in this area and neither the medical nor dental fields take it fully on. It really takes finding those precious few practicioners who have taken on the time and cost of further education in this area. This is especially true since much of this isn't covered by insurance.

I really struggled getting a diagnosis. I too have seen ENT's, Audiologists, PCP's, several dentists and a Neurologist through my process. My symptoms were a stuffy ear (over a year), numbness in my ears/nose, significant ear pain, tinnitus, significant hearing loss over the course of a year, tightness in my neck/jaw/shoulder area (diagnosed as cervicalgia and myofascial pain). I even had so much itchy ear that my ENT gave me a special compounded medication to try to help me. It never actually did a lot though.

By the time I got to my current TMJ dentist, I was extremely worn down and frustrated. This particular orthodontist did a ton of testing that none of the other docs and dentists had even considered. When he sent me for my MRI, he told me that most MRI imaging places were unable to do good MRI's of the TMJ. He also stated that there is a huge range of 'normal' for tmj movement and that many radiologists who read the MRI's will report normal even if you are on one of those extremes of 'normal'. When I had my MRI done, I had to travel over an hour away to a specific center to have the imaging done, even though there are tons of other places closer. I didn't have any kind of "clicking opener" thing with my scan. Instead, my dentist sent me with a specific size set of stacked tongue depressers (at a height customized for me) that I had to put in my mouth and bite down on part way through the scan. This resulted in both closed and open images that were very clear. I will say that I found this particular MRI pretty uncomfortable since my muscles were spasming pretty intensly when I had my bite in a closed position. Anyway, when I had my records appointment, my dentist called up various images of my tmj area and zoomed into them so I could have a good understanding of what was happening with my bite. My testing came back "normal". When you compared the images of my tmj discs, it was very apparent that the discs had slipped and my jaw was being pushed back a bit towards my ear. So, while I was classified as 'normal' by the radiologist, my dentist confirmed that I did have a problem significant enough to cause my problems.

I also had an entire series of other testing as well: 3D Cone Beam CT scan, medical and dental history, oral exam, facial and neck palpatations, jaw tracking, bite analysis, nasal sufflication, etc... They all also confirmed my diagnosis.

For the muscle spasms, I did get short scipts from my ENT for flexeril. I did get some help from some regular PT which involved a lot of manual neck work and orofacial trigger point releases.

Honestly, it wasn't until I was months into my treatment with a lower mandibular repositioning splint and PT that my muscles finally started releasing from the spasming. Getting my lower jaw forward a bit from where it was pushing back on my ear was the first step to helping. Once I was in that forward positioning, over time, my muscles finally started relaxing so I could find my 'natural' bite. Evidently, with discs out of place, the muscles were trying to constantly compensate which leads to all that spasming. The 'tension' feeling had been so constantly with me for so long that it had become my normal and I didn't realize how bad it was until later when I was doing better.

I'm not sure how much this helps, but know that you aren't alone.

Just be careful as you seek out your tmj specialist. Many dentists state they treat tmj issues but don't really have a lot of training in that area. Even with research, it took me a couple tries to find one that was right for me.
Yes, my daughter is very healthy as well as my other daughter. They're definitely a handful at 5 and 3, soon to be 6 and 4. The only thing they suffer from are allergies like my husband and myself do. They do well on Zyrtec and singulair.

I went ahead and took the zanaflex and you were right- it doesn't do much for the ear thing. My ear will feel like it needs to be popped but popping it doesn't do anything. It's a hard decision sometimes as to whether or not to pop them at all. I've been trying to breathe thru it, tell myself tomorrow is a new day, I might feel better. I'm glad to have met someone with the intense desire to protect their ears. I have no hearing loss according to my tests, and normal middle ear pressures even when symptomatic, but I feel like I can't always hear right. I think it's called subjective hearing loss, because its just perceived loss. I probably should stop obsessing over the ear symptoms and maybe I won't notice them as much. I am still doing one more round of audiologist exams before seeing a tmj dr. I want to be sure my ears are ok before pursuing anything else.

I have a hard time with this whole tmjd thing. I feel it so much in my ears that I feel it cannot be anything else. I also have the Eustachian tube problem history from last year even though they're testing normal now. I have allergies too, which I see you do as well, that I treat with allergy shots and xyzal (Zyrtec stopped working). I've noticed something strange though with my shots. The last 2 times I had a delayed localized reaction that was basically a lump that looked like a mosquitos bite that lasted several days after the shot. It only happened with my dust mite shot. I reported it to my allergy dr but he thinks allergies aren't causing my ear weirdness. He is determined that allergy shots cannot cause a systemic inflammatory reaction, only an anaphylactic reaction. I've read otherwise, but he denies this is possible and tells me my ears are fine because audiological testing proves the Eustachian tubes are functioning normally. I'm still on the fence. I know it seems crazy not to believe a test done by machine, but I still just don't know. My husband and I have it narrowed down to tmjd or allergy shot reaction causing Eustachian tube problems. These symptoms with my ears reoccurred 1 day after an upped dose of allergy shots and on the day that I was eating crunchy cereal and felt that weird tug in my cheek. So it's gotta be one of those 2 things. I get frustrated because I need an answer. If its the ears, I just need to know, thought idk if I would opt for Eustachian tube dilation surgery again. If its tmjd I just need to know, so I can start to fix it.
I know what you say about not missing work- I'm one of 5 managers at a retail clothing store and I try hard not to take time off. Things have been extremely stressful at work in the last several months even prior to this starting. Our workload has increased, can't seem to get anything done on time, the work piles up day after day and by the end of the week it's panic time because we can't really do tasking on the weekend because its busy. I know my co workers cannot understand why I need to call off when I occasionally do, because they cannot see my pain. I try to describe it to them and they seem horrified and unbelieving at the same time. I've given up talking about it when they ask how I'm doing because they do not understand and won't understand and I hate the 'thank God that's not me' looks on their faces. Sorry for the rant but if my job caused this after my fight to get my ears back to normal last year because I'm under too much stress and clenching my teeth constantly, I'm going to have to rethink if its worth it. Mad mad mad.
Thank you so much MountainReader for always being helpful with info and so very supportive. You're awesome!

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