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TMJ & sleep bruxism.

Jan 26, 2016 3:12 PM

I have suffered from severe facial pain for seven years now. I only recently found out that I have temporal mandibular joint disorder caused by sleep bruxism. I never knew I was clenching my teeth. I spent years trying to get a diagnosis. Multiple ear nose and throat doctors because of the pain that feels similar to sinus pain & The headaches that feel like sinus headaches. Multiple dental appointments & specialists. I spent thousands of dollars on my teeth over the years because of the teeth pain I would experience. I even pulled a couple that I know now I didn't need to. after all the dental work my teeth still hurt and there was no explanation. A dentist once told me that I had bruxism but I didn't believe him. I did not think I grinded my teeth. & it upset me that they were trying to associate my symptoms to it. I believed strongly that I did not have bruxism! And orofacial pain clinic referred me to a neurologist. They thought I could have nerve damage from dental work. So I took nerve medication which somewhat helped the pain but made me too tired that I couldn't function. The neurologist didn't think it was nerve damage, but still gave me pain medicine for nerve pain. Then at USC oral facial pain clinic they brought up again that they thought I grind my teeth. I denied it but he explained to me thoroughly how my x-rays of my teeth showed that I have been putting pressure on them not caused by a normal chewing. Soon after that appointment I started catching myself doing it waking up in mid clench. From there I researched bruxism and TMJ and made an appointment with the specialist in Los Angeles. Dr stender We did 3-D x-ray/ scan that showed tissue and bone. And he confirmed that my jaw has been damaged. They did tests on the muscles of my jaw. I have limited mobility from a tight they are in a lot of pain in the muscles of the jaw. They also did muscular test of my neck and my shoulders. I was told i was the worst case as far as how bad my muscles have been affected. They told me it was a miracle I don't have migraines from the tension in my temples/head/neck etc. It was explained to me that these Jaw muscles get so tight that they cause a chain reaction muscles in the neck, face, temples& shoulders. My range of motion is at a 50% loss in those areas. The doctor explain to me that most of his patients go to multiple different specialist before they finally figure out what's wrong with them. Even on their initial questionnaire they ask which specialists you'd seen for this problem & almost all of the ones they had listed I had checked. I wake up in the morning & my face will be cramped in such a way that I cant relax it. I will be in full furrow anger face and it will take an hour before the muscles will start to relax. This muscle cramping in my face is horribly painful and uncomfortable. It is the worst in the morning but sometimes will show itself in the evening or even while I'm still at work. People are always asking me what's wrong because I look angry. I have ear pain, sinus pain, headaches, tooth pain on every upper molar. A sensation that an elephant is standing on my left cheek. I have sore tight spots at my neck and I thought they were glands that were swollen but it turns out that they're just muscles that are really tight. I am very happy that after all these years I finally have a diagnosis. My problem is that my insurance considers this a dental problem so it does not cover any of the treatments. And I cannot pay the $4000 estimate that the specialist gave me. So for now my primary physician is giving me a small dose of muscle relaxers and a very small dose of Klonopin to help manage the symptoms. But I can tell my jaw is getting worse because the popping has gotten worse. And despite these medications I still clench every night. But the muscle relaxers help the headaches and the shoulder & neck tightness which is horribly painful and uncomfortable. If anyone is out there with similar problems & are looking for someone to share things that help them. Please do. I am using this app to log my pain to find patterns or to see if treatments help in the long term. Let's compare notes.

Jan 26, 2016 5:09 PM

Hi Jaime, I'm sorry to hear about your long and painful story. Bruxism is hard to treat, i know what its like. There are physiotherapy exercises for the jaw but I'm sure you've already tried that. The quality of sleep is generally a result of the way you spend your daytime. The mind processes at night what happened during the day. So the cause for bruxism is generally stress. Have you looked at that direction? To sleep well, one must be at ease. I like your idea of logging the pain and comparing notes!

Jan 26, 2016 6:11 PM

I have tmj as well and yes very painful my face swells and feels like my head is in a vice grip that I can't open. Then trying to throw up and can't open your mouth fully indeed painful. So I've be on mucle relaxants and to get a retainer to space my jaw the right space. Also tried acupuncture in my face and neck and that helped as well

Jan 26, 2016 6:55 PM

Iamjaime, I have TMJD and osteopenia, which has deteriorated my jaw joints & bones. I've had TMJ since my teens & I'm 54 now. An oromaxillofacial surgeon was going to do surgery to replace my joints until he found out I have osteopenia, and my scars develop keloid scars. He said it's likely to scar, if it even heals with the bone issues, and I might have less mobility than I do now. I've found I even clench & grind during the daytime, especially if I'm under stress or in a lot of pain. What Dr Fouradoulas mentioned about our daytime activities affect our sleep, believe it. I've had to adjust and keep from even watching intense movies and dramas after 3 pm, along with no caffeine. Otherwise I end up with bad, disturbing dreams that cause more grinding & TM pain.

There are a couple of things i do to help my tmj pain. I wear a splint made by my orthodontist at night, and during the day if i feel a need to. I use Voltaren gel to massage into the muscles around the jaws. I have a tube sock filled with rice that I can freeze or microwave and hold against the joints. I make a point to slowly stretch my joints open throughout the day. And I have gotten injections into the joints to help relieve some pain. The injx are painful so I don't do them too often. I hope some of my suggestions are helpful. Hugs love & prayers! πŸ™‚πŸ™πŸŒΌπŸ’•

Jan 27, 2016 12:01 AM

Thank you for sharing. I have tmj and have to watch eating hard breads and chewy foods or my jaw will pop for a couple days on and off. Aside from that I have been clenching my jaw during the day when I become stressed. By the evening my jaw aches my teeth have a pressure pain. The morning I start out fresh. I need to try and stop myself from doing it in the daytime. I have a lot of anxiety and stress in my life from my foot healing and balancing my attention between my three kids and one that is high-functioning autistic. Top that off with my brother that has been my full time caregiver and helper with the children is moving to Hawaii in two months. I am a single-again mom. I
also have a nail picking habit that has spanned 43 years I started around 4 I think and my fingers hurt I pick them down so far sometimes. Ho hum. I got off on a tangent. Anyway thanks for starting this thread.🐴

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