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TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint Message Board

TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint Board Index

Hi guys,
I am not a newbie to this board, I've posted a few times back in Feb about possibly having tmj disorder. My main concern is that I had a nasty bout of Eustachian tube dysfunction last year which caused me to end up having a surgery called Eustachian tube dilation to hopefully correct this. It seemed to work honestly, and my ear pressure tests started coming back normal and I felt so great healthwise.
In January something caused my ear fullness problem to return. I was not sick or congested prior to this happening. What did happen was that 2 days before it restarted, I had allergy shots and was bumped up a dosage. I had no reaction or anything unusual. The next morning I was eating cereal and when I bit down on a bite, something...weird... happened in the left side of my face. I can't exactly describe the sensation- almost like a tug or pull, but it was enough to stop me in my tracks because it was so disconcerting. I popped some ibuprofen and noticed a heavy sort of feeling in that side of my face that didn't go away despite the ibuprofen. The next morning I woke up to that dreaded clogged ear feeling. I immediately checked to see if it was blocked by popping it, and sure enough, it wasn't blocked. Both ears popped easily. I couldn't understand why popping them didn't relieve the blocked feeling though. I tried popping them throughout the day and all to no avail- I couldn't get rid of the clogged feeling. Popping them literally did nothing. It didn't help one bit. I made an ent appt and was told my ears looked fine, I had a pressure test with normal results, and got an Rx for prednisone because basically they thought it must be some kind of inflammation. The prednisone didn't really help much. I started to frantically visit ENTs because I still felt clogged and nothing was relieving the sensation. I'm now going on 5 months of this. Last year only my left Eustachian tube was pressure locked shut, but this time I'm experiencing the sensation in alternating ears. Sometimes it escalates to where it feels like I have a massive ear infection, but my dr will look into my ear and say it looks fine. The only other clues I have to work with are that I had 2 upper respiratory infections one in march, one in may. This would lead me to think allergies are responsible. But something doesn't seem right in my face still. I ended up seeing a neurologist in the course of these past months and she thought it could be tmjd, and even ordered an MRI for it and to rule out any neurological disorders. The MRI only showed a slight deviation of my jaw to the left upon opening, which the radiologist said was of unknown significance. So far I've attempted to find a tmj specialist (I know many are not really specialists) and haven't had any luck. I cant even find one able to look at my MRI imaging! I can't pay $300 for a consultation where I'm told they can't interpret imaging of a joint they claim to be a specialist of. I've considered looking into an orthopedist because its a joint, so I'm confused as to why a dentist should even be treating this- I get that it can be related to teeth, but I haven't noticed any offness with my bite, and according to my regular dentist I don't grind my teeth(surfaces are intact and healthy), so I guess the only option is that I'm clenching or that I have somehow hurt my joint.

My sanity is waning. I'm being referred to an otologist by my family dr because he feels that I'd have more joint pain with tmjd. He's thinking my Eustachian tube problems have returned, despite the normal pressure tests and me being able to pop my ears no problem. I'm super confused and tired of it. The other symptoms besides the ear thing is some occasional soreness in my face in front of my ear and occasionally burning in my ear or a feeling of severe infection, and my swallowing mechanisms seem out of whack.

So again I ask, does this seem like tmjd? I'm not getting too many answers from the ent community, mostly they just tell me it will need to just go away on its own, but its not going away. None of the allergy treatment I've done has had any effect on my ear sensations, though it has helped most of my allergy symptoms. No amount of ear popping relieves the clogged sensation. Any opinions are welcome, of course I'm aware that none of you are drs, but I'm frustrated enough to ask for advice. The medical community is really disappointing me right now with their lack of clear answers.

Hi JenPlus2,

First, I had the stuffy ear, then a couple months later the ear pain set in. With the stuffy ear, it just stopped popping one day. It stayed that way for just over a year. I was about 3 months into treatment at the time. It just took me a long time to get to the treatment period. The ear pain was worse. It felt like a bad bad ear infection.

I went to the ENT a couple times. He checked me out and said everything looked good. He even did a scope to check my eustacian tubes and said they were fine. I had CT scan early on, then the MRI of my brain and neck. I also saw 2 audiologists. Other than the hearing loss, everything came back 'normal'. I was frustrated. At one point, my ENT even offered to put tubes in my ears if I wanted since everything else had been ruled out. I didn't want to go there though if it wasn't really needed.

I do have SEVERE allergies and asthma problems. At the time I started with these symptoms, I think I was about 2 years into my second go-round with immunotherapy. I was also on 4 allergy meds and 2 asthma meds then as well. I used to have chronic sinus problems, but they were pretty much resolved when this started. My ENT is also my allergist and he wasn't seeing the allergies as an impact on the ear problems. We did try switching up one of my nasal sprays, but it didn't do much. In fact, my sinus problems drastically improved after my acid reflux surgery in fall 2008. My tmj symptoms started a few months after the surgery though. :( (I later found out that the intubation for the surgery was my final tmjd symptom trigger. I'd been a bruxer and am hypermobile which both pre-disposed me to the tmjd. That was what put me over.)

While my ENT didn't initially pick up on my TMJD, when it was finally diagnosed, he supported the diagnosis and even asked for the info for my specialist so he could do referrals. I know there is a connection, but I think since neither the medical or dental fields in general are trained in tmjd or take 'ownership' of the tmj stuff that it really keeps them from looking to that as part of a problem.

Hope that answered your question.


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