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How to Cope With TMJ Disorder, Depression, & Chronic Pain

Photo by Ashley Rose on Flickr

In recent years the connection between depression and chronic pain has been studied heavily. Most of us realize that there is a link between the body and mind, and that they are closely tied together with each affecting the other.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines depression as:[quote style=”boxed”]A serious medical condition that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things.[/quote]

Chronic pain is often defined as: [quote style=”boxed”]Pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing.[/quote] Some believe that period is 6 months, while others say 12 months.

One thing is for sure…. there is often little sympathy, because most people don’t “get it.” Chronic pain is misunderstood, and often times carries a stigma. My husband recently had several stitches in his head and people could see them, so they could relate to his pain. TMJ disorder is invisible and nobody can see the pain…..does that make it less real?

There really is no way to tell how much pain a person has. No test can measure the intensity of it, it doesn’t show on imaging, and no instrument is able to locate it precisely. Don’t let anyone tell you your pain is not real.

[typography font=”Copse” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#d27362″]Depression is one of the most common issues facing people who have chronic pain.[/typography]

Here are some interesting statistics:
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  • The American Pain Foundation has reported that nearly 32 million people in the U.S. have reported having pain that lasted longer than one year.
  • It is estimated that 1/4 to 1/2 of the population that reports pain to their doctors are depressed.
  • Those whose pain interferes with their independence are more likely to become depressed.
  • It is expected that 1 in 10 Americans will suffer from chronic pain at some point in their lives.

[/unordered_list]Read More »How to Cope With TMJ Disorder, Depression, & Chronic Pain

Managing a Pain Flare Up – Free Pain Journal Download!

If you’re anything like me, one of the things that I find the most frustrating about having TMJ disorder (or any chronic pain condition, really) is the instability of it… Often, the pain is not steady or stable, and it is hard to know how I am going to feel from one day to the next. This can be incredibly frustrating! Not just for us as patients, but also for our loved ones. It can be difficult to make plans, not knowing how we will feel.
I remember sitting on my couch one afternoon after a particularly rough flare-up, trying to run through the damage it had done…. what appointments did I need to reschedule because I missed them… which friends did I need to call to apologize for being absent from a get together… etc…
I was totally sick of it! And I had enough… so, I started to devise a plan to take control of my health rather than having it take control of me!

I’d like to share some of my plan with you today, and I want to hear what you do to manage flare-ups! If we share tips, I’m sure that together we can come up with some great stuff!Read More »Managing a Pain Flare Up – Free Pain Journal Download!

How to Choose the Right TMJ Dentist or Doctor

Choosing the Right TMJ Disorder Doctor – Part One

First, if you have not had a chance to read part one of this series, here is a summary of it:TMJ Disorder Doctors Part One

  • Research your area – Make a list of all the doctors near you that could be candidates.
  • Prioritize your needs – What qualities are important to you in a doctor?
  • Verify credentials
  • Interview doctors
  • Evaluate – Is this the right doctor for you?
  • Choose your doctor!

Choosing the Right TMJ Disorder Dentist or Doctor – Part Two
TMJ Disorder Dentist How to Choose
A healthy Doctor / Patient relationship is in many ways like other relationships, with negotiations and compromises. The big difference is that all negotiations and compromises need to be made with the patients best interest in mind. Having a clear idea of what you want to get out of your visit will help your doctor make the most of your visit.
Points to Remember:

  • Your impression of the receptionist and other staff is important. It often reflects the attitude of the doctors.
  • If after the interview you feel uncomfortable, follow your gut, and don’t hesitate to interview someone else on your list.
  • If you have multiple health problems, is your doctor able to handle the entire situation? or is he or she a specialist?
  • Does the doctor see many TMJD patients?
  • Get a second or third opinion if you are unsure about anything that your doctor recommends.

Read More »How to Choose the Right TMJ Dentist or Doctor