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Degenerative Disk Disease, In the Jaw (Page 1)

I am 22 and have had popping/ clicking for as long as I can remember (due to grinding when I was little). Since, November, i have had issues opening my jaw in the mornings. It worsened over the months. It has gotten to where I can only open 25mm out of the original 51mm. I saw an orthodontist from Feb-May who fitted me with an nightguard (soft/hard) to help with clenching at night.

I began to see an oral surgeon in May when it worsened. I have had pain in the jaw, head, neck, earache, and decreased opening. I had an MRI taken that showed anteriorly displaced disk (on both sides), but the left disk was somewhat to the inside too.

I just had an arthrocentesis on the left side (lysis and lavage) and it still feels like I open my jaw and it hits a solid stop. It can't roll over it at all. The oral surgeon said my joint looked like that of a 60-yr old's, that I might develop arthritis ( i think I already have a little), and that he called it degenerative disk disease. He also said my disk was split in two.

Is there anyone who can relate? I'm 22 with the jaw joint of a 60-yr old?!? Does anyone know about degenerative disk disease in the jaw? Is a discectomy the next step? Help!

Also, I know stress definitely intensifies it. Do you know of any way to help it? I use heat and massage a lot. Any other suggestions? I am really worried about the possibility of surgery. I have one year of college left, and I'm already hit with a $2,000+ bill for this one minor surgery. I pay for things on my own and wondered if there were charities or foundations that may help.

Thank You!
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First Helper mlh_2003
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replied July 8th, 2007
Supporter
I'm going to ask you to please see more various specialists before making any type of decision regarding further treatment and especially surgery. After 27 years of this nightmare, I just found out definitively that I have djd (degenerative joint disease), arthritis, of the jaws. But, I can function (24 mm opening) and the pain is controllable.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to have surgery after putting up with this for 24+ years. I got on the Internet and started searching for any and all information, but particularly on a surgery that would either clean out the joint and remove the discs or fix my lower jaw (too small). I obtained a lot of information about self-helps, various medications and supplements, plus a wealth of stuff I hadn't even thought about (going to a pain doctor). I wasn't finding anyone who had been helped by surgery but scarier - I was finding people who have had repeat surgeries and most were still not being helped.

That scared me so I started seeking help with various doctors, medications, PT & MT, supplements, and all self-helps I could find. Some worked. Some didn't. I didn't give up when a pain doctor treated me like _________. Evil or Very Mad I big-time worked on stress relieving and posture corrections, and this has made all the difference in the world to me. I found out I can't work a job with high stress or that talks a lot (I was a police chief's secretary). I can live with that (or rather without that job). I have to treat my jaw like it is a handicap. But one that I can live with.

Again, I highly urge you to go to various different kinds of specialists for more opinions. Make sure to have a tomograph (x-ray) of the jaw joint if anyone is going to talk about djd. You can live without a disc or even a split disc. It may take a lot of work and frustration, but put surgery at the end of your list of things to do for your jaw. See a neuromuscular dentist. And see a Functional Joint Orthotic (FJO) dentist. And see a dentist who focuses on TMJ. And see another oral surgeon (if you must). Don't give up no matter how frustrated and painful you become. ***DO NOT*** make an emotional decision on a very emotional dysfunction. Information...Research...See a new dr...Information...Self-helps...See another new dr...Massages or physical therapy...Heat & Ice...Research...

You get my point. Sorry I wrote so much but I just had to. You honestly can do this and we will help you anyway we can, but it will take time. Plan on that right now. It took me about 9 months from when I first started searching for a pain doctor to feeling some relief from the constant 24/7 pain. And you might have to travel but you are young and you are worth it. Don't wait until you are 51 and have no energy left to travel.

Please let us know how more we can help. If you want help in finding specialists around your area, just ask. Take care.

God bless...
Carol
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replied July 9th, 2007
Extremely eHealthy
Hey
im Sorry about the situation---I know how you feel. unfortunately no insurance really and truely covers tmd. Ive paid over 100,000 out of pocket over the years on treatments for tmd. To treat this it will more than likely be out of pocket untill insurance companies wake up and smell the roses. Personally I hate insurance as ive been messed up by them too often. Ask your oral surgeon about options. arthrocentesis rarely works for extended periods of time as it only works with one joint cavity and there are 2 cavities. hold your chin up--there is hope you just have to find it.

As for charities and foundations to help---the only way that you will find help is to either ask a church for help or post a ad in a newspaper and hope that legitimate people help you. I posted on the internet and got a ton of scams.

if anyone asks you for any info to donate to you dont give it to them. if they ask you for money to donate dont give it to them. if you want any info on scams let me know as ive dealt with it---alot.
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replied February 3rd, 2008
I have had tmd problems since I was a 11 and mine turned into the degenerative joint disease probably about 9 years ago I am now 26.. I have gone through 2 jaw surgeries the first one was botched but the second did help for a couple years... But what I have found that helps is Steroid injections into the jaw joint to help with the inflammation...It a lot less expensive than having a surgery and I don't recommend surgery unless it's a last resort... Do your research go to different doctors until you find one you are comfortable with...I hope things get better...There are others out there with this same problem....
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replied February 3rd, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
I had a steroid injection into my jaw and it did nothing for me. I guess it just depends on the person. Do find a good doctor. I cant stress good hard enough.
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replied February 24th, 2009
Degenerative disk
I can relate...I just had surgery for the same problem. I couldn't chew for 2 months after surgery and now its 3 months after my surgery and my jaw is still terrible. I dunno what to do next. My doctor is AMAZING!!
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replied March 11th, 2009
We're in the same boat!
Hi, I am a 20 year old college student just diagnosed with degenerative disk disorder. I have been experiencing popping an clicking in my jaw along with intense migraines since I was about 17. My dentist gave a night guard to use and when that stopped working last November I had an MRI done. I just got the results a day ago. Apparently, I have degenerative disk disorder in my right jaw joint.From what I understand DDD is a genetic disorder that causes the disks and joints to deteriorate. It normally occurs in women 40+ years old. The plan they gave me is to see a specialist in June to have steroids injected into the joint. If that doesn't work I will have to have my right side of my jaw replaced. I looked a couple sites and they say that if you have insurance most companies will cover a replacement surgery. I don't know if any of this helps, but I wanted you to know your not alone! I hate the thought of surgery, the recovery process possible scars. It all scares me, but it relieves the pain its worth a try. I will be praying for you and your situation!
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replied January 3rd, 2012
How did the jaw replacement surgery go? How does it feel now?
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replied January 3rd, 2012
I just had a CT scan and am being referred to a surgeon. How did the jaw replacement surgery go? How does it feel now? Are you happy with the results?
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replied August 14th, 2009
I am 28 years old and had TMJ my entire life. I suffer from severe headaches and jaw pain. After years of splints, nightguards, physical therapy and pain medication, I had surgery. Orthognathic surgery on the lower jaw. This temporarily corrected my bite but my jaw could barely open or shift side to side. I found a Dr. and he performed an arthroscopy 1 year later to "clean out" both sides of the joints. This, with months of physical therapy and steroid injections helped the opening greatly. Now I will be 29 and my jaw joint has almost completely deteriorated from bone loss. My bite has shifted causing an open bite, more jaw pain, clicking, popping, headaches, etc. In January I will be having a total joint replacement. Unfortunately I will have to do this again in 15 -20 years or so since its not permanent. I can suggest trying all options prior to surgery, researching, finding a great Dr who has done many of these surgeries. Do not rush into this, exhaust all other resources first. I understand what it is like to be 20 somethign and feel 60 something. Good luck
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replied August 15th, 2009
Experienced User
Try your local University teaching hospital. Ask them about programs for people with no health insurance who can't afford medical care.

First, if you still brux, stop bruxing. A combination of Gabitril with either Lamictal, Welbutrin, or Lexapro might do the trick. Or. you can have an oral or plastic surgeon inject Botox into your masseters every 4-5 months. There are sometimes plastic surgeons at university hospitals willing to do this. You can obtain these drugs and even the botox free if you meet certain financial critera. Visit the websites of the drug manufacturers.
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replied September 25th, 2010
A year ago, my dentist noticed my bite was crooked. (Likely from a bike accident I had twenty years previous though I have a popping jaw and I used to grind my teeth when I was a kid too... I haven't had an MRI yet so we don't know indefinitely it's trauma-related.) I was referred to an orthodontist who was more than happy to slap on some braces and whisk me off to an oral surgeon to have my jaw corrected. I learned 1/3 of my jaw was deteriorated. (I'm 30).

Fortunately, I sought a second opinion and found an orthodontist who advised against surgery for the time being and ordered a splint to wear on my bottom teeth. It's like a brace and takes the pressure off the right jaw and hopefully will slow the deterioration. He's also recommended vitamin c, silica, amino acid and whey protein supplements... he tributes my 15 year vegetarian diet to the unusually rapid degeneration and specifically shunned vegetarian protein... (the 60 year old jaw). I question him on this of course... I suspect his nutritional advice might be a little old-timey, but I'm going to get a second opinion from my doctor/naturopath. So supplements and the splint for 6 months and then I'll consider moving forward with orthodontics and jaw surgery in good time if it seems like a permanent solution.

My advice: don't panic, take it slow, get as many opinions as you need. Orthodontic consultations are free... where I am anyway. In fact, my orthodontist didn't charge for the $750 splint, or any of the work he's done, and he even ordered the silica for me at his reduced rate. I know I'll get hammered eventually, but I've been lucky so far.
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replied September 29th, 2010
I have degenerative arthritis affecting my jaw joints as well. I'm 35.

Arthritis or not, a TMJ specialist was still able to correct my displaced disc and rock it back into place with splint therapy.
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replied November 1st, 2010
djd osteoarthritis
I am a 22 year old college student, whom has delt with tjm most of my life. I now have degenerative joint disease. I can not stand the pain anymore and an considering surgery. I have had night gaurds and a numerous amount of the pre-surgery helping which in fact have not helped. My oral surgeon has suggested breaking upper and lower jaw but has not justified what he plans on doin for my joint. My profile needs help in the fact that my lower jaw is set back; therefore my orthodonist, when i was younger, tried to mask the problem of my jaw and its growth, which doesnt help me now that im trying to pay for school and now this?? whats to do?? im so frustrated. ive tried just about all there is; surgery is on deck.
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replied January 11th, 2011
Help needed?
i have been diagnosed with degenerative disc, early stages of arthritis and worse on the left side. I exhausted chiropractic work,and the upper splint from the dentist did not work. Now i take aspro daily and put warm towels on jaw and kneck and massage. This is only giving me very minor minor relief. I am going to see an oral surgeon next month. I am thirty years old in sydney, spam unapproved. any suggestions?
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replied November 14th, 2012
Hi there. I'm also in Sydney. I realise your post is over a year old but I was wondering how you ended up going? Did you find a good Dr? I've just found put that the disc on one side of my jaw has completely degenerated over time, I never knew there was a problem. On my right side though my jaw locked suddenly and I got a referral to a specialist who said I've slipped the disc. He ordered scans and that's how I found out about the degeneration on the left side.
Apparently there's a great surgeon in Melbourne, but I'm not sure if I should try a splint first. Anyway, I'd be interested to hear how you're going
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replied January 31st, 2011
Hi, im 29 and having my discs removed on tuesday, very nervous but gotta be better than constant lock jaw n pain. i have already had keyhole TMJ cleansing in sept, no change so am goin under the knife on tuesday to get left side done (will get right done at later date). after readin all ur posts i understand how truely lucky i am as i live in UK and do not need to pay for surgery. ive lived past 3 years on concoction of meds, at present on tramadol which i cannot function on at all. will update u on how things go. xx
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replied June 7th, 2012
Degenerative joint disease/ TMJ/ Slipped disk
I'm a 21 year old college student who has been dealing with the pain and problems associated with TMJ for close to 4 years. I had a terrible episode a few days ago which included shooting pains all throughout the right mandible and a series of muscle spasms that continued all the way down my neck. I finally went into a specialist today who, after reviewing my xray, told me that I have degenerative joint disease, a slipped disk and a pain disorder. I'm definitely scared and didn't even realize that my jaw pains that I've had for years could actually be due to a more serious problem. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for posting your stories, it made me feel better knowing that I am not alone and that there are several courses of action to take. My doctor is having me fit for a day-time splint, a night-time splint, ordered me to use heating pads on both sides of my jaw at least thirty minutes before sleep and prescribed me muscle relaxants in order to reduce the amount of pain I'm in. If this doesn't work within the next 6 weeks to 6 months, surgery is the only option. I'm hoping that everything works out but I have to admit that I'm scared beyond belief. Anyways, I just wanted to contribute by saying that I hope that all of you are healing and I appreciate you sharing your stories. Best of luck.
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replied June 7th, 2012
I'm a 21 year old college student who has been dealing with the pain and problems associated with TMJ for close to 4 years. I had a terrible episode a few days ago which included shooting pains all throughout the right mandible and a series of muscle spasms that continued all the way down my neck. I finally went into a specialist today who, after reviewing my xray, told me that I have degenerative joint disease, a slipped disk and a pain disorder. I'm definitely scared and didn't even realize that my jaw pains that I've had for years could actually be due to a more serious problem. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for posting your stories, it made me feel better knowing that I am not alone and that there are several courses of action to take. My doctor is having me fit for a day-time splint, a night-time splint, ordered me to use heating pads on both sides of my jaw at least thirty minutes before sleep and prescribed me muscle relaxants in order to reduce the amount of pain I'm in. If this doesn't work within the next 6 weeks to 6 months, surgery is the only option. I'm hoping that everything works out but I have to admit that I'm scared beyond belief. Anyways, I just wanted to contribute by saying that I hope that all of you are healing and I appreciate you sharing your stories. Best of luck.
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replied June 7th, 2012
I'm a 21 year old college student who has been dealing with the pain and problems associated with TMJ for close to 4 years. I had a terrible episode a few days ago which included shooting pains all throughout the right mandible and a series of muscle spasms that continued all the way down my neck. I finally went into a specialist today who, after reviewing my xray, told me that I have degenerative joint disease, a slipped disk and a pain disorder. I'm definitely scared and didn't even realize that my jaw pains that I've had for years could actually be due to a more serious problem. I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for posting your stories, it made me feel better knowing that I am not alone and that there are several courses of action to take. My doctor is having me fit for a day-time splint, a night-time splint, ordered me to use heating pads on both sides of my jaw at least thirty minutes before sleep and prescribed me muscle relaxants in order to reduce the amount of pain I'm in. If this doesn't work within the next 6 weeks to 6 months, surgery is the only option. I'm hoping that everything works out but I have to admit that I'm scared beyond belief. Anyways, I just wanted to contribute by saying that I hope that all of you are healing and I appreciate you sharing your stories. Best of luck.
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replied December 20th, 2012
help
I have degenetative tmj. No one ive seen for it(dentist,chiropractor, doctor) seems to know a whole lot about how to treat the symptoms. Everyone always throws surgery in there but i will NEVER have surgery. I know there isnt a whole lot else i can do. I work 2 jobs so 12 hrs a day 5days a wk. I have to function. Unfortunately migraines and neck pain make me miserable and sometimes force me to stay in bed which isnt good when you need to work. So im kinda stuck now. Dont know what to do next. Are there any pain meds that may help me deal with the pain but allow me to work at the same time??? Thank you for any help:-)
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replied December 22nd, 2012
I am a 20 year old college student. I have had 2 jaw surgeries already. oh, I am also a musician. I use my mouth everyday. My doctor now wants me to get an MRI so see if I have DDD. I am over the pain and the emotional stress. I just want it all to stop. No one understands.
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replied May 31st, 2013
DJD
Hi,

I am 21 and just got diagnosed with DJD. I always had TMJ, which never bothered me, but the pain and not being able to open my mouth at all to eat a sandwhich came after I had my wisdom teeth extracted. My ortho told me I had DJD at the worst stage awhile agom, but that my body adapted to it and now its dormat but that stress of any kind or being hit or pressure on the left side of my jaw could cause the DJD to come back, and he told me about the splint everyone is mentioning on here that I could get now to help with the pain and opening of my mouth, but my ortho said the splint makes it so your brain forgets where your teeth line up and makes it so the jaw alines to the damaged side and from their after i would need surgery and braces to correct the crookedness from the splint. For me this was terrible news because I am a singer and it is the career path I am trying to go down and he said the surgery would alter my vocal chords (im not sure how?). I chose to live with the pain and just be aware of it and avoid the things that hurt it most and only strain it during singing. I know i should get a second opinion, but has anyone else been told of the DJD going and coming back, as well as the splint procedure later requiring surgery and braces as a whole long process?

Thank you!!!!
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