We are excited to bring you the first of many TMJ patient interviews that we will be featuring here at TMJ Hope. Jessica & I were able to spend some time on the phone talking about her journey with TMJ disorder and TMJ arthroscopy. Here’s our chat:
Stacy: Tell me a little about yourself Jessica.
Jessica: I am 22, live in PA. am a senior nursing student. I have had
TMJ disorder since I was 15. It is only on the right side.
Stacy: How did you get diagnosed?
Jessica: I wish I could remember. When I was in middle school I chewed gum non stop. When I got into high school I started
having problems with clicking and popping when I chewed
and talked, it progressed until I was in pain all the time. We
started going around trying to get me into braces, but the
dentists said that we needed to find out what was going on
with my jaw.
Stacy: So you didn’t have braces?
Jessica: No, no braces. Thankfully I had a wonderful dentist who had
TMJD too, he worked with my doctor to set things up. The
results were not ideal for a 16 yr old. My disc would come out
out of place and wouldn’t reduce, and I started having
degenerative changes of the joint.
Stacy: Did you have any conservative treatments at that point?
Jessica: Before the MRI I took a couple of different muscle relaxants,
pain killers, got a drug store mouthguard, and one of the
$400.00 ones from the dentist.
Stacy: Were you ever told that you grind your teeth?
Jessica: I was told that my teeth showed no sign of wear, we always
thought no, and I don’t have any recollection of doing that.
Stacy: So, you took some medications, wore a splint, and had an
an MRI. When did you decide that you needed to pursue other treatments?
Jessica: My quality of life was not good, especially for someone so
young. I was in pain and couldn’t eat. My dentist was not a
proponent of surgery, he felt it was a last resort. When he
saw the MRI he referred me to a surgeon. This was early
2005, and I had my first arthroscopy in August of 2005.
Stacy: Was the TMJ arthroscopy outpatient?
Stacy: How did you feel when you woke up from the anesthesia?
Jessica: I was beyond out of it after my first arthroscopy. Nauseated,
and don’t remember the trip home.
Stacy: How was the pain and swelling?
Jessica: Minimal swelling, I had one of those stretchy things with ice
in it, and we were really good about the ice. I kept on top of
the pain and took all the meds they told me to take.
Stacy: How many stitches?
Jessica: 3 the first time, and only one the second time.
Stacy: How was the recovery?
Jessica: I was completely fine in less than one week. I started the first
day of school with the stitches in.
Stacy: How long before you actually feeling better than before?
Jessica: It may not have been immediately because of the pain meds.
I really never had pain, and I was good at following the
Stacy: After the first arthroscopy how long before you had pain
Jessica: I had no pain, no problems, ate almost everything I wanted
to, but no big hamburgers or steaks. May of 2009, I bit down
on a piece of cheese tortillini, and felt an instantaneous pop
and insane pain. It came back in full force, and worse.
Stay tuned for part two of this interview, which will go into detail about Jessica’s second arthroscopy and what she thinks new TMJ disorder patients need to know. Thank you so much, Jessica, for spending time with me to tell your story. I know that many patients will benefit from this! If you are interested in doing an interview for this series, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Last but not least – if you are in the United States, we at TMJ Hope wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving (with lots of mashed potatoes & other soft foods)!