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Constant TMJ pain & need/urge to crack my left jaw. Advice?!

This forum has been super useful to find out more about TMJ and to hear about the trials and tribulations of TMD sufferers. However, I have not found a post with my particular condition and the gnawing urge to crack/pop my jaw.

I have been struggling with TMD for almost a decade now. It has become truly debilitating... At first, the pain was tolerable (even ignorable) and so I rarely bothered to wear my occlusional splint (mouth guard). However, in time, things have gotten worse and in recent weeks, the pain has become unbearable. I have the constant urge to crack my jaw every 20 seconds it seems, which only provides very temporary relief by shifting my jaw to the right in order to crack my left TM joint. This makes a painful grating/scraping sound and I'm sure is only putting undue pressure on an already sensitive joint. I've tried everything to resist the urge to crack but the pain becomes intolerable after just a few minutes of concentrating on not cracking. In the end, I can't help but end up cracking it. It's gotten to the point where I am making that same involuntary jaw movement hundreds of times a day, without even realizing it. I am really scared that it is going to become a permanent (and very painful and ugly) tic!

To make matters worse, I'm actually in rural Madagascar at the moment and here for another 6 weeks on a work mission. As you can imagine, I am more than reluctant to go see a local dentist here and so I'm looking for any temporary solutions to ease the pain until I get home. I just want to ensure that I do not make things any worse by waiting a few more weeks/months to see a dentist.

I have a customized night guard with me, which I've started to wear again at night the last few days. It doesn't seem to be helping much with the pain during the day though and I've also read on some other posts that night guards can be harmful for TMD, if you've managed to grind through the material. Does anyone know if that's actually the case? I'm a heavy grinder, I think, and literally at my wits end, going crazy trying to resist not cracking my jaw.

If there's any advice from anyone on how to resist the urge to crack one's jaw, I am all ears! I've tried everything from meditation to yoga to facial massages, with ice packs and hot compresses in between.... PLEASE HELP!!!!! I'm far from home and desperate for solutions Sad
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First Helper bb1989
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replied July 13th, 2011
tmj tips and self help
It will be very painful but you may want to try massaging yourself by putting your pointer finger in your mouth, along your upper gums all the way to the back of where your jaw joint is. If you push in an up in little circles you can releive some pressure in your jaw. Apply constant circular pressure as long as you can stand it and then remove your fingers and relax. If all you have is a night appliance, wear it during the day too. If your doing any physical or stressful work that causes anxiety you could be subcopnsiously clenching and making this worse. Take some muscle relaxers if there are any you can get. As a long shhot some herbs or foods have anti inflammatory properties you can eat. Avoid sugars and corn starch, avoid coffee or stimulants. Hope this. Helps!! Smile
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replied July 14th, 2011
Thanks for the useful tips!!!
Hi bb1989,

Thanks so much for your response! I've been checking my post everyday to see if anyone had posted some tips for me. I really appreciate your advice!

I didn't realize that I could massage my TM joint from inside my mouth, as most of the posts I've seen suggest external massaging just in front of the ear lobe. How far back do you need to go in your mouth until you reach your TMJ? I tried reaching just behind my molars (without gagging) but still felt really far from the actual joint.

My urge to crack my jaw has lessened in the last few weeks but, unfortunately, the cracking/popping seems to have gotten more severe, especially when I eat. I try to eat slowly and refrain from opening my mouth to wide but it's really difficult to do when chewing. Loud cracks and grating can be heard and I can feel my jaw popping in and out as well. It's all pretty scary.

I've booked an appointment for the 1st of September with an MD dentist at home (the day after I return from this work mission) and hopefully he'll have some good advice and solutions for me. I just hope/pray that I am not doing irreversible or permanent dammage by waiting several months to go see a TMD expert!

Thanks again for the tips Smile
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