I live with daily pain. Physical pain. When I was a teen in the 80's there was little known at TMJ issues. It was this emerging physical issue in teen and young adult women mostly. And it will play a large part in my life, for the rest of my life.
It started out with headaches. Headaches that would last and never go away. Headaches for weeks. Headaches to the point that I would do almost anything just to get rid of the pain for a short time. Then short, intense earaches. Like a spike in my ear for 10 seconds. Then my jaw started locking open or closed and afterwards be very sore.
The first thing that happened was my parent's medical and dental insurers would fight over who had to pay for the cost of treating this. Doctors tried to put me on muscle relaxers. I was a teen aged zombie would slept my afternoons and evenings away. I remember laying down on the bleachers at my sister's softball game and sleeping. Not a good way to spend your teen years.
After that there was physical therapy, dental devices, psychological services, cortisone shots, counseling...none of which produced long term results. So they did surgery.
5 times, or about every other year for 10 years.
Currently I have no condyle head on either side of my jaw. It's free floating, of sorts. My other issue is that I seem to 'grow' bone or hardened tissue in diseased joints. Between that and the fact that the muscles in my jaw are so tight from lack of use...well, lets just say that my jaw is majorly screwed up.
After my last surgery in 1997 I was done. I never wanted to have surgery again. I was tired of the surgery, the recovery and it making no difference. So I kind of swore off doctors. In 2001 I got tired of living every day in pain. My jaw aches, no shoulders and neck and back sometimes ache, my head aches, I still get the ear pain and I can't open more than the width of 2 fingers.
So I went to a pain management clinic. I did this monthly for 4 years. I'm currently on pain meds, anti-inflammatory meds and other things to help. But I live with some sort of pain everyday.
Some days are better than others and I almost forget about it. Some days are bad and I wish I had never started this TMJ journey. But most days are in between somewhere.
Now, I say all this, not to ask/beg for sympathy. I say this because I am amazed at the number of people that I meet on a weekly basis who live in daily pain too. I am amazed at how few of us speak up about it and wonder why. I say this because I want people to know that they're not alone. I say this mostly because it's liberating to talk about.