Friday, 23 August 2013

Autoimmune Arthritis and the Jaw

Arthritis joint pain is one thing. I've lived with it long enough to know how to cope with it. I have found also easier to 'read' that pain: I can easier find what's increasing the pain and how I can help it. However, there is one joint that I find impossible to 'read,' and I have the worst time trying to find what's going to help it the most.

My jaw.

Most people will develop a click or pain in their jaw- or TMJ- at some point of their life. A lot of time, the jaw will heal itself with time and a little help. However, it's not that easy for others. There still isn't a lot of research about TMJ disorder and such, so the ways we treat it often have little scientific evidence to support it. Usually, prescribed treatment is a soft food diet, jaw excersises and stretches, splints, avoiding large jaw movements and overuse, and heat and cold therapy for six weeks. Many doctors are reluctant to go past this because it can be reversed. However, what's a person with chronic pain supposed to do?

We're not actually sure. There's no basic guide for jaw pain caused from autoimmune arthritis, unlike when treating any other joint. Most people are content to use conservative treatments such as the ones above, mostly since TMJ pain comes and goes. I wish it were the case for me- jaw pain for me has been chronic and worsening for a few years. I haven't seen the maxillofacial and oral surgeon yet, so I'm not sure exactly what will be my treatment plan.

So, what am I to do in the mean time? A few home remedies. They may not be perfect or work for everyone, but I've found relief.

  • Biting down on a towel or cloth. It's soft enough to do no oral damage. It keeps my mouth open enough to help ease stiffness, but closed enough to keep pain minimal.
  • Hard candy has honestly helped. It keep my jaw muscles busy and keep them from getting stiff,  without having to stretch and tire the joint.
  • I've found talking sometimes helps. I don't know why, but being able to talk or even cry about things helps me feel better and relieves pain. Maybe mental stress is more connected to physical stress than we thought.
  • Hot drinks can be very soothing. So can hot showers.
A bit of help. Hopefully I can find and share some more.

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