TMJ – Totally Messed (Up) Jaw

Posted on: June 28, 2011

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) is too much of a hassle to remember, more so, spell. So instead, I’m giving it my very own definition (see title please). Muscle fatigue and pain, check. Facial ache localized to the area below my ear, check. Joint clicking and popping, check. That weird feeling that my jaw deviates to one side when I open my mouth, check.

It’s confirmed, I have TMJ dysfunction.

I had the hunch that there’s something wrong with my jaw during my first dentist visit (many many years ago). She asked me to open my mouth wide and  I couldn’t. Actually, I could but with a sharp pain that stroke that point just below my ear and I had that sickening feeling that I wouldn’t be able to close my mouth anymore (scary!!!).

Wearing braces (some 3 years ago) didn’t solve the problem for me but it was able to correct my underbite.

Not as worse as this! (

I was fine for some time. My TMJ dysfunction probably hibernated and decided that it’s time for its big come out. So, two weeks ago, I woke up with a pain at my right jaw which aggravates every time I open my mouth – chew, eat, brush my teeth, talk, yawn (Omigaaawd yawn! I dreaded yawning!) In a week’s time, I mastered the art of yawning with my mouth half-closed. Now, that’s real talent. ^_*

After a hundred what ifs (what if I just let it be, what if my jaw locks and I drool and cry all over the place, what if the ligament disk between the condyle and the fossa tears and I end up dying because of the pain brought about by two of my facial bones being all cozy?!?), I made use of my good ‘ol HMO and paid my favorite diagnostic clinic – Tokyo Healthlink – a visit and find out what the eff is wrong.

The first doctor, a ENT specialist, who consulted me ruled out all other possibilities of my jaw pain. After inserting two long (about 4 inches each… not kidding!) sticks up my nose (I seriously wanted to take a photo of myself looking like a total freak-o with two sticks hanging out of my nose… ‘Hey, look I’m a walrus, a human walrus, but my fang grew out of my nose…’), she dismissed that my often clogged nose because of my allergic rhinitis may be the culprit. After checking both ears, which she praised for being “too clean,” she ruled out any ear infection. Then started the mouth open-close, open-close, open-close routine check . She almost gasped when she felt my jaw popped and I almost said ‘See?!?’

So I was referred to the orthopedic doctor and I had jaw x-ray then was asked to come back after a few days for my first ‘jaw rehab.’ The term tickled me; I imagined my jaw in a fetus position with its imaginary arms embracing itself while having waves of shiver, mouth frothing on the sides . Tsk, my imagination can kill me.

Anyway, rehab includes laser energy therapy, electrotherapy, ultrasound therapy, Auriculotherapy, and some others which I have no idea what they’re called. Now, I have to go and rehab my jaw for 2-3 times per week. I hope it gets better and will never ever have a relapse.

That's me having my dose of electrotherapy (Smile!) =D


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