So M.E & Jaws, You’re probably hearing the theme music in your head right now huh?......Well have no fear, I’m not talking big scary fish with large mouth & sharp teeth, I’m talking TMJ also known as TMD (Temporomandibular joint disorders/dysfunction).
Over the years I’ve often seen people in M.E chat rooms talk about developing pain in their jaw and things such as their mouth getting stuck for a split second when they open it, causing them to panic, and also a clicking sound….well this is likely to be TMJ.
This was one of the many symptoms I developed after getting M.E/Fibromyalgia, Now whether there is a link is still under scientific study, but look at it like this, when I was diagnosed with M.E but still being passed around consultants, a neurologist gave me an added diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, he said that most people he saw with M.E went on to develop Fibromyalgia even if they weren’t aware of it. He continued that because there are no definitive tests for either, only questions and eliminations and both have similarities, those with M.E are often told their symptoms are purely down to M.E and therefore the Fibromyalgia gets missed. He said there was a belief within his profession that both illnesses were actually one and the same but until the research and studies had been done they were treated as separate ailments.
It’s also quite common for those with M.E/Fibromyalgia to develop Osteoporosis,again something I went on to develop and again a diagnosis that’s often missed due to the complex symptoms of M.E
And it’s long been noted those with Fibromyalgia are likely to develop TMJ which is a disorder of the jaw, the jaw joint and the surrounding facial muscles that control chewing.
The Temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull which is right at the front of the ears on either side of your head.
Its still not clear what causes TMJ but its thought its do do with the surrounding muscles and parts of the joint.
People with TMJ can encounter a number of symptoms and problems such as dizziness, headaches,pain & tenderness in their face and it may even appear swollen, also jaw, neck and shoulders, and in/or around the ear area. Because the joint and surrounding muscle can be tender and inflamed & the inner ear can feel itchy and irritated people may think they have an ear infection.
It can be difficult to open your mouth very wide and it can keep locking and getting stuck. You may also have a popping or clicking sound when opening/closing your mouth, it can be a permanent thing or as with M.E/Fibromaylgia symptoms fluctuate.
As for treatment its like M.E & Fibromyalgia very hit and miss, and in all honesty it just comes down to doing whats best for the individual to manage it, with painkillers, & gentle massage the most common.
My dentist sent me to see a consultant at the hospital and after x-rays and examinations a TMJ diagnosis was confirmed and I was offered an Operation to correct it although she said she wouldn’t recommend it as it has a very low success rate and the downside is the nerves can be damaged resulting in patients losing their taste buds for life.
Funnily enough I already had a friend with TMJ who was a nurse and she’d gone through with the Op and unfortunately lost her taste buds and still didn’t cure the TMJ.
So my answer was a firm resounding Nope……..Not tasting food? (Imagining chocolate at this point).
So if you’re experiencing any of these problems I’d suggest chatting with your dentist first, I had to wear a gum shield every night for awhile and I also had to wear a special one a few hours during the day but it didn’t help and that’s when a hospital appointment was made in the end and a diagnosis given, an although there’s not a lot that can be done, sometimes just knowing & understanding what’s happening takes away some of the fear.
As always, I’m not a doctor, the blogs are written purely from my own 24 year personal journey of living with M.E, Fibro and all the other things i've gathered along the way, so please don’t use them to self diagnose. If you have any symptoms your worried about then get it checked with your Doctor or/and dentist in this case.
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Mama Chill :) XXX