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Jaw followup
mirror girl  Rockwell

So I finally saw a specialist today.  I had a bit of a "who's on first" issue with getting this appointment; I saw my general doc on Feb 1.  She found someone to recommend me to, name only.  Having googled the recommended doc I found four different phone numbers so I ended up calling one office, and being told to call a different office.  When I called office #2 I was told that she's no longer seeing TMJ patients.  That nurse then gave me two other specialist names and I picked one.  I had an appointment scheduled for last Wed, but had to reschedule when rehearsals moved earlier.  Today's appointment was at 8am (ugh, really early in my world).

My jaw has been fully stuck since Feb 12.  (Stuck = only minimal opening, one piece of bread is fine, a sandwich with two pieces is no go.)Interestingly that means the pain level has dropped, because I'm not able to move the joint very far.

Dr. A is really nice, and a little hippy-dippy (he teaches meditation at Stanford).  We went through the basic health history stuff and then he watched me move my jaw.  His first comment "Wow, you are not faking this, it's really stuck."  Heh.  He also checked my accupressure points.  I do officially have TMJ, and more specifically articular disk displacement.  Dr A described the disk as being the tires on a car going up and down a driveway.  Except, flip that upside down because the driveway would be the skull and the mandible is the car.  When your jaw opens it rotates a first distance with the disk providing cushioning and torque between the bones, and then the disk rotates on a different axis to open the jaw the rest of the way.  My disk (tire) is stuck on something and won't rotate past the first step.

Fixing it will be a slow process.  I'm getting a splint to wear all the time (except for eating) to open and relax the muscles at the back of my jaw, and then we'll work on gently getting the disk back into place.  If gentle doesn't work then we'll be firm.  I don't have an eta for better, but at least there's a plan.

I do wish the office took my insurance, instead they'll submit for you but demand payment up front.  So there goes my tax refund.  Whee!


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Yikes! I kind of forgot the jaw thing because you haven't mentioned it in a while. I'm sorry it's turned into a big deal instead of something little that disappears on its own - but I'm glad it's fixable and they're working on it. Also "argh" about the insurance- I have that problem with dentists, and I never have that kind of money just lying around. Hooray for tax refunds!

Honestly I hadn't mentioned it in a while because I kind of got used to it: getting soup instead of a sandwich at the deli, cutting all of my food up small. And since the pain has lessened for most things (yawning still hurts) it's not at the front of my brain anymore.

Knowing what is up is awesome, and hopefully the fix won't take forever. The office warned me up front about the likely costs and the insurance stuff, which I do appreciate. We're looking to medical for this, and hopefully I should get around 70% back. I had been planning to spend my tax refund on new pots and pans so I suppose I didn't miss too much.

Yikes and ouch. That just sounds brutal. But I'm glad you were able to get a diagnosis and are working on getting your tires repaired. Sucks that you have to pay up front and I do hope your insurance will cover it.

Oddly it really does hurt way less now that it's just stuck. Of course, I can't eat a hamburger either...

They did warn me about the pay upfront, and apparently they've worked with the insurance company I've had before so hopefully that will go smoothly.

Hmmmmm... well can you maybe cut it into small bites? Or hey, I've got a pretty good blender I can loan you. :-p

I do hope that goes smoothly for you. I'd hate to think that you got screwed out of your cash.

Heh, I've been cutting all my food small for the past week or so, and smoothies are my new best friend. But a burger isn't the same if you can't get all the toppings in the same bite.

Amusingly while the nurse was taking an impression of my bottom teeth she kept asking me to open wider while I was thinking, "nope, this is all there is".


My TMJ was pretty bad at one point years ago, but my disk never slipped. Owwwww. I went through 2 or 3 night guards because, according to the oral surgeon, my teeth grinding was so hard it actually broke them.

I had to pay up front too. My insurance then didn't cover anything mouth-related unless it was strictly medical like a broken jaw. My dental didn't cover anything either.

My sister was the only person her doctor had seen who was able to break her night guards clean in half by the sheer strength of her jaw. Maybe he just hadn't seen enough patients yet...

Had I been smart enough to get this looked at when the right side was hurting all the time and occasionally clicking, say in December, it might not have gotten this bad. I'll be curious to see this splint which isn't just a night time device. I have a feeling I'm going to have to take it out to be understood over headset.

I'm hopeful that my medical insurance will cover some of it, but I know it won't be all of it. I hesitated over the cost of the splint briefly, but I would like to be able to eat carrots again.

You poor thing!! I have TMJ as well, and have done physical therapy for it in the past. My jaw locked up the other night, and for a few seconds, I couldn't CLOSE my mouth all the way. It was open wide enough to bite a sandwich, and it was stuck. I nearly panicked until it occurred to me to open WIDER, and then try closing it again.

Hope they get you all squared away, and soon!!

I think I prefer my mouth not opening all the way rather than not closing. Yikes! A few weeks ago I could massage the side of my jaw and yawn and unstick it, but I appear to be past that point now.

Thanks, I like the doctor a lot and on the next visit I have to get a timeline.

My sister had to come here (3 hours away) to see her jaw doctor, find out if they have to do surgery on the left side of her jaw. They do, something about cleaning out the joint and stuff? The doc said he won't touch the right side of her jaw again (it already had the same surgery) until it is to give her an artificial joint because she has some degenerative disease in the jawbone.

I hope that the plan they have you on now will work to decrease your pain sooner rather than later!

Jaw surgery does not sound pleasant.

Mostly I'm grateful to know what is stuck and why - it was a little scary when I had no idea if the issue was with tendons, or muscles, or bones, or what. I'll get the splint next week and see how it goes.

That sucks about your jaw being suck and needing to pay up front, but I'm glad they've at least diagnosed the problem and you should hopefully get 70% back! As for the nurse asking you to 'open wider'..seriously? I guess she didn't read your chart! *rolls*

The nurse was pretty great about the 'open wider' thing actually. She apologized for not checking my clearance first and we made jokes while she set up the next tray.

I'm glad you like the doctor, that's half the battle these days. I have TMJ, caused from partially dislocating my jaw a few years ago. First it was stuck open, then it was stuck closed. Lucky for me, it was a matter of just pushing "rod a" into "slot b" and everything went together again. Not lucky for me, it can now happen again, more easily. So I try not to get punched in the face :P

Hopefully you'll get enough back to still buy pots and pans!!

Punching in the face is bad, I think you're right to avoid it. Heh. I am a little worried that whatever this could keep happening but I'm hoping once we get it aligned correctly again I'll be good. I'm going in for the splint thing this morning, so we'll see how that goes.

We need pots and pans, we're still using some things I bought 15 years ago, and what I could afford 15 years ago wasn't really meant to last this long.

Ouch! I don't think I could live on soup, I never find it filling.

Hopefully, it won't take to long to get back to normal. Although I'm finding out bodies don't work that way. What takes seconds to break/ misalign/ injure takes weeks to fix.

I've been managing to eat more than soup, but sandwiches are totally off the menu for the time being. Mashed potatos are my new best friend.

Yeah, I haven't asked for an eta from the doctor yet, I think I'm a little afraid of what he's going to say. I just want it to be better in a month for my race, so I can eat a big cheeseburger afterward.

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