Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, commonly known as TMJ or lock jaw, is a problem affecting the jaw and the surrounding muscles. For the last few years, I’ve noticed some unusual discomforts ranging from a persistent ear ache to headaches behind the eye and a sore jaw. My medical doctor insisted that there was nothing wrong with my ear. My chiropractor thought my headaches were caused by the neck injury I had from a car accident. It wasn’t until I went to see my dentist for what I thought was a cracked tooth that I discovered that all those symptoms were caused by the tightening of my temporalis and masseter muscles. His recommendation was to alternate using an ice pack with a hot compress, five minutes each, for a total of 30 minutes twice a day. The first time I used this method, the pain went away within a few days.
Yesterday morning , I realized that the TMJ was back. I couldn’t chew the soft flour tortilla I had for breakfast, nor could I chew on the strawberries I had for a snack later. Even eating my Malt-O-Meal gave me trouble. I tried taking a couple of Excedrin, but the pain remained. I didn’t even sleep at night.
I’m not sure what else to try, other than the ice pack/hot compress combo. I hope this pain goes away soon because I’m running out of soft foods to enjoy.
Have you ever had TMJ? What has helped your pain?