Ive been battling TMJ for what seems like years now and though ive found some degree of relief with a $2000 mouth appliance, I cant seem to cure it or make it go away. The symptoms im finding debilitating are NOT pain but rather dizziness (or what i call a foggy brain, inability to focus things). Its not a room spinning vertigo type dizzy (but rather sea sick type of dizzy). Ive been through Ive been thru many many orders of physical therapy (which is useless, i get more from basic exercise on my good days). Ive tried acupuncture, message, medicines, many different mouth appliances, Ive had MRI's Ive talked with a jaw surgeon and a neck surgeon (who say there's no surgical fix they can see that will help me), Im currently going to attempt the radical step of getting dentures because these mouth appliances (i have to wear to 24/7) are very difficult to chew with anyways and seem to be rotting-wearing my teeth out. Im hoping dentures will enable the maxi facial dentist to perfect my bite and gain some degree of relief for my tmj. I think flexeril helps my sleep better but im not sure its doing anything for the TMJ itself, pain meds like percocet just make me 100% useless and its NOT pain thats the major problem!!! (doctors just dont get it!!! they keep saying pain.... i keep saying i cant function in life anymore because of brain fog!).
This all seemed to have started (or at least exacerbated by a car accident in 2008 where my right side of my neck was injured somewhat (whiplash type injury). The TMJ began in a major way a few months after this accident. I was missing a few teeth from younger years in the back of my mouth (i guess that can effect jaw position too).
Is their anyone out their who can understand about this inability to focas my vision and brain anymore? Does anyone have any ideas to help with this, id be so thankful for anyone's input and suggestions, thank you
sorry to hear that you had such a painful time. tmj can and usually is very debilitating. if you wish, i can arrange a phone consult for you. your overall history sounds very treatable. ican be reached at 818-995-1891. best regards, dr.martin gorman,dds
So sorry to hear about what you are going through. It's so hard not to be able to think clearly or feel stable in space - feeling strong in body and mind are the basics of wellbeing. Having experienced both of these symptoms along the way myself, I can commiserate.
The brain fog issue is quite complex...there can be so many contributors. I've suffered with this for the duration of my TMJ and it's really scary to feel out of it for long periods. One thing I've found is that powerful muscle relaxants like flexeril have really exacerbated my brain fog. They have also made me feel dizzy, sort of off balance for much of the day after I've taken them. (Dizziness is an official side effect of flexeril actually). Powerful pain killers like percocet also make me foggy. If you don't really need them, I would eliminate them.
I think brain fog can also result from the body experiencing too much input of aggravating stimuli. When there's too much pain, tension or any other symptoms, I think fatigue and brain fog are the body's way of protecting itself by shutting down, essentially saying "I'm already dealing with enough and can't take any more in!". I notice that with my tinnitus, hyperacusis and other symptoms (including pain or not), my brain is already receiving so many messages, it's really hard to focus on any others. Kind of like being at a crowded, loud rock concert and trying to solve a calculus problem in your head...
Getting good sleep is so important in dealing with such physical issues and there are many ways to improve sleep without muscle relaxants. If you can, I would try getting off the drugs that exacerbate these symptoms for a period so that you can see exactly how much is being caused by the drugs and how much is caused by your condition.
In my experience, if you don't see a physio or other practitioner who specializes in TMJ issues, you may not be helped. I tried physio, acupuncture and chiro practitioners who did not specialize in TMJ and got no help whatsoever from any of these treatments. Once I found practitioners who were really informed about TMJ and up to date on how they could help treat it specifically, all three of these things helped me greatly.
I would recommend finding some second opinions, maybe a highly reputed NM dentist, and a chiro who specializes in TMJ- I believe that there are certain back/neck issues that can cause dizziness. My TMJ chiro showed me a pic of my atlas, which was very twisted up (fairly common for severe TMJ) and so he treated me for that. I was dizzy and lost in space for weeks afterward. In my search for answers, I found that nerve impingement, often near the oxyput, can also cause dizziness.
It took me a long time to get to the road to recovery - I'm finally in phase two braces and feeling a reduction in symptoms for the first time in years. It took seeing many specialists, getting many second opinions and doing tons of research to get here. TMJ is super tricky to treat as best practices are still not agreed upon and so many healthcare practitioner have little understanding of it.
Well I wanted to share some of my experiences with you in hopes that some of it may help...
I am feeling the way you feel every day all day for years!! I am just starting the all day splints on tuesday, I amvery skeptical about it. I feel liek I am cosntantly in a drunk daze, and I feel like everything is surreal.
@ choppersgirl : Your word of "Surreal" is a very good way to describe the feeling i live with everyday, its like everything i look at is a picture hanging on a wall as opposed to reality.
@Bijue22 : I am not currently taking perkocet or vicoden anymore (its really not "pain" per say that im having the biggest problem with (i could handle pain alot easier then dealing with this dizziness/fog/surreal issue).
Ive been seen and treated by a Chiropractor who supposedly specializes in TMJ and i was defiantly worst after being treated by him (he used heating pads around my neck and jaw, he used a smooth metal tool which he ran down my neck and shoulders so hard it caused bruising and it seemed for a day or two after each treatment i felt MORE dizzy/foggy!
The best thing thus far has been this integrated mouth appliance made by a neromuscular dentist which i now use 24/7 (i even chew my food with it), I feel as though my lower jaw wants to come forward more because im always trying to hold it forward and more open by holding/making my front top and bottom teeth meet (which does not allow me to chew at all and it doesn't feel natural to be in this position but im feeling like this is what my jaw is trying desperately to make occur?
@mgorman, thank you so much for your offer to consult with me and i will plan on calling you Monday to touch base, are you local to Ma.?
other things ive been through are MRI's of head and neck which show no spine or spine nerves which the surgeon says he can help with.
Acupuncture for 10 weeks which seems to have done nothing for anything.
massage which at least feels good and relaxing for a short time.
many rounds of physical therapy which has done nothing for my TMJ or dizziness.
I do not sleep well for sure, I will try to focus efforts on obtaining better sleep as the previous poster suggested.
I always feel tension, pain, tightness on the muscle on the right side of my neck which extends from just behind the jaw joint and seems to travel down towards just in front of my collar bone (at which point i loose track of it)... im not sure what is causing this very particular muscle to ALWAYS be tight, sore and unyielding but i believe this to be the root of all evil in my life! I explained this to my doctor 100 times and she ordered another MRI of this area as a "soft tissue" MRI which shows NOTHING AGAIN!!! I yell her "Doc, for the love of god feel that muscle, its like its swollen always (some days worst then others), and i think she just does not believe me or things because the MRI showed nothing, it must be nothing =\