I have been diagnosed with a disorder – yeah, yeah, I know all the people who know me will be nodding their heads in an “I told you so” kind of way while they giggle (I’ll admit I’m often the bud of all the hypochondriac jokes!). But seriously though, I have been officially diagnosed, which, for me, means I can finally move forward, toward feeling better.
I have TMJ Disorder. What the heck is that?? It’s a pain in my ass that’s what it is. Only the pain’s not in my ass it’s in my jaw!
TMJ Disorder. Sounds rare and deadly doesn’t it? Well it’s not. It’s very common, boring even, and non-life threatening of course. It’s one of those annoying “invisible” disorders that you can’t see, one that won’t kill you, or leave you bed bound or cause you to cry out in pain unexpectedly. Some days I seem just fine, most days I can function as normal (especially in the first half of the day) and to the outside world it seems like nothing is wrong. Other days, however, it drives me bloody mad and I’m grumpy as hell at everyone and everything!
There’s an aching pain in jaw and upper gums, sore teeth, a constant metallic taste in my mouth no matter what I eat, daily headaches, the fact that when I rest my mouth my jaw deviates to one side. I can’t eat on my right side because my jaw clicks too much on the other side and sometimes locks open. Sometimes my ears ring and crackle and pop and hurt. Sometimes the pain in my teeth is so constant and annoying that I subconsciously nash them together just to change the sensation.
You can’t see TMJ Disorder, and of course there are so many much much worse illnesses out there, but this is mine and it’s what I feel. Lucky for me I’m not one to sit in my pain, I can’t just put up with it, I have to make a change, because I know I can. I know it’s not like me to be this tired, this grumpy, this down. I’m learning a lot about TMJ Disorder (ike seriously I’m giving Google and TMJ Disorder bloggers a damn good work out!) so that I can take the best action to fix it.
Aside from the mouth pain, TMJ Disorder can be the route of so many other ailments too I’ve learned upon many appointments to various health practitioners; back pain, neck pain, teeth sensitivity, sinus, hip issues, bruxism, jaw pain, dizziness, ringing in ears, fatigue, sleep troubles, anxiety, cracked teeth, sore throat, mood swings (yeah I’m blaming it for my grumpiness too!) and the list can go on and on. TMJ isn’t killing me but sometimes it makes me feel like I’m in hell.
So what is TMJ disorder??
I wrote a blog a couple years ago about an unknown metallic taste in my mouth (click here to read the old blog when I didn’t have a clue what the heck was going on!). I saw doctors and dentists, GP’s, naturopaths and ear, nose and throat specialists. After almost a year I finally had an answer. Thanks to a diagnoses from an oral specialist and a chiropractor, both whose diagnoses’ aligned perfectly, saying I had an inflamed TMJ which was causing the taste and the later the jaw pain. Yay, I finally had confirmation it wasn’t all in my head!
It made sense the click in my jaw I’d had since I fell flat on my face on my hens night at the Portsea Pub (yeah go on, I give you permission to laugh!) had thrown my jaw out of line so far it caused my TMJ (temporomandibular joint) to become more inflamed as the years went by. It also made sense that hormones from having children had flared it up and over time without addressing it, it’s gotten to a point where it causes daily problems, major teeth clenching while I’m asleep too apparently!
It’s pretty ironic really that my school reports always said I talked too much and distracted all the other kids because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Well, thanks for the curse you put on me Miss McKenzie, I now actually CAN’T close my mouth properly!
Proper medical description – when the TMJ is injured or damaged, it can lead to a localised pain disorder called syndrome/disorder which symptoms include injury to the teeth or jaw, misalignment of the teeth or jaw, teeth grinding, poor posture, stress, arthritis, and gum chewing.
Hmmmm fun stuff.
Anyways, the point of my story is this; for a long time (just over two years now), I haven’t felt “right”. Something was off. But many health practitioners, even friends and family, put it down to my anxiety and hypochondria. I get it. I thought it was just me being melodramatic too. I wondered if I was even imagining the pain?? Either way, I had to make a change. So, I investigated and I finally found an answer that makes perfect sense. I urge you to do the same and not give up. Get a second, third, fourth opinion until you find someone who looks you in the eye and says; “I know what’s wrong with you, and I can help you fix it.” You’ll bloody cry your eyes out when that day comes, I promise you that!
Stay tuned and in the coming months, I’ll take you on my journey to good health – should you wish to come for the ride! In the meantime, if you think you have TMJ Disorder, take action!!!
Signed, Lisa (TMJ Disorder Ninja Warrior) xo