TMJD In Transgender Women

So…recently I was diagnosed with TMJD or temporomandibular joint disorder (erroneously, yet widely, known as TMJ) which is basically a mandibular joint issue akin to arthritis, where there is a misalignment of the muscles. Boxers get it after too many knockouts to the jaw and so do anxiety-ridden tooth-grinders. Guess which one I was. Imagine being in excruciating ear pain for a week or so, not being able to talk really due to the pain but still being asked questions every five minutes, having to sustain yourself on a mostly liquid diet because eating solids feels like you’re swallowing daggers and knowing that there’s no cure but “waiting it out” until the next flare-up. As you might expect, it’s rather awful.

Currently, I’m doing well, but every now and then I’ll have a flare-up, usually when I’m stressed. I’ve read that TMJD is more common amongst menopausal women on hormone-replacement therapy, and by extension I’m assuming, transgendered women who are not only hormone-laden, but also perpetually stressed out…so in my case, it makes a lot of sense that I developed this. However, I’m also keenly aware that the initial trigger for my jaw issues started one Thanksgiving weekend long ago, when in my engorged holiday mind-set, I decided to raid the fridge for leftovers and sunk my teeth into some stale chunks of french bread, unhinging my jaw like a cobra and hearing a tell-tale ‘pop,’ which I assumed was perfectly normal. Only, after that, every time I would try to stretch my mouth open, the left side of my jaw would click. I thought it was nothing but then this happened years later. At first, I thought it was an ear or sinus infection because I was prone to those and because it felt like one, but upon consulting an Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist, I was told that wasn’t the case.

So, what is all this preamble leading to? I want you girls out there to keep healthy, of course! ^_^ So, if you’re dealing with this terrible ailment too, here’s a list of tips to keep those flare-ups few and far between!

1) DON’T STRESS THE SMALL STUFF…WHICH, BASICALLY, IT ALL IS! Seriously, I know I’m stealing this phrase from somewhere, but that’s because it’s good and also, very true. Go meditate yourself! Nothing’s worth ruining your health over, so as difficult as it is, try to just let whatever stressful thoughts you have drift on by. Don’t force yourself not to acknowledge them, because forcing anything is a stressful process in and of itself. Just let them pass through you. Unless, of course it’s a thought like, “Oh I have to pick my son up from daycare,” or “I have a deadline…if I don’t do it, I’ll get fired,” those you should probably deal with. But everything else? Nah…

2) USE A MOUTH-GUARD AT NIGHT! They’re like 15 bucks at Target, so price shouldn’t be an issue. Honestly, I started doing this whenever I have a flare-up and the next day I feel waaaaay better. You may look funny, but at least it’s in the bedroom where crowds won’t see you.

3) AVOID COOL AIR DURING A FLARE-UP!! Air-conditioned rooms, blasts of fan-swirled air on the face…they’re all bad during a flare-up because they make the muscles contract in a way that makes your jaw ache so much worse.

4) HEAT, THEN COLD, THEN HEAT!! Hot compress to the jaw (not too hot, but here’s a tip…heat up some salt in a frying pan then bundle it in a towel, it stays hot longer), then a cold compress, then another hot compress all while slowly opening the mouth to condition the muscles to be okay with that sort of thing.

5) NO CLENCHING, NO GRINDING!! Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth, leaving a space between the top and bottom rows of teeth…like singers do!

6) JAW MASSAGE!! A quick fix, but when that flare-up hits, you need all the help you can muster. A quick massage in circular motions of the jaw and ear area is a big help, calming spasms and generating heat to relax away tension.

And lastly…

7) PUT DOWN THAT STEAK!! Or corn, or apple, or carrot, or practically any other hard food that forces you to open your jaw wide in order to eat it…at least until after your flare-up’s over.

There you have it, my dears…TMJD is a rotten break, but like everything else in life, not insurmountable! ^_^

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About ladyinwaitingblog

A transgendered woman on a continuing journey of self-acceptance and self-discovery.

Posted on August 9, 2012, in Random Trans-Topic and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Mir, you better try some hypnotherapy besides meditation to help the pain management. I believe that both are potent.

  2. Hi there…just found your blog through Google Alerts. I designed and sell a face wrap that applies heat and cold and sell hundred to TJMD folks. Please take a look and see if it might be something that could help you. It also comes in two new “fancy” color patterns that you might just like! PS: Congrats on your courage!

  3. Feel better.
    You know ~ I never thought of something like that being a TS related issue but you do make a good point.

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