26 March, 2008


"Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD, TMJ or TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment.


"Muscle pain can sometimes be associated with trigger points in muscle tissue. These trigger points can be localized by digital palpation, both intraorally and extraorally. This is known as myofascial pain syndrome."

The above is from Wikipedia.

Here is how I use my TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit to help with my myofascial trigger points, which hurt like hell, curtail how wide I can open my mouth and cause me to bite down on my teeth extremely hard in my sleep, and probably grind them a bit (known as bruxism... One night I forgot to wear my bite block, which situates a plastic pad between my molars to keep them apart like parents would homicidal children riding in the back of the family van on a very long trip. In the morning I discovered that I had shattered my back-bottom-right molar into four pieces):

I place the two-inch-diameter electrodes (sticky pads) directly on my TMJ and turn up the juice. I electrocute the hell out of the joint for only about a minute every morning and night because I'm placing the electrodes right on my trigeminal nerve, which allows one to feel one's face (somewhat important... Even if one experiences only pain from it), and if I fuck that nerve up I'll end up looking like a stroke victim... But perhaps on both sides of my face.

I should note that all TENS units tell users specifically NOT TO DO THIS. Therefore, like just about anything else I do, I cannot recommend it to anyone else.

But oh sweet zombie jeebus how much it helps...

The trigger points remain painful to the touch, but I can open my mouth wider than I have been able to in years. The electrode-application seems to function as the most effective massage on earth. I probably would have to be massaged all day, just on my TMJ, to achieve the same results.

I'd rank the improvement in my facial pain from a 10/10 to a 4/10. Pretty damn amazing.

So I love my TENS unit dearly, even though it does absolutely nothing for any of my other trigger points or pains. The relief I get from my myofascial pain is enough to make me wish my TENS unit were a woman so I could marry her. What's more, I'd switch teams and marry it if it were a guy and we lived in Massachusetts. ...Well, as long as it (he) didn't have a mustache...

That written, DO NOT USE A TENS UNIT FOR TMJ OR MYOFASCIAL PAIN SYNDROME! (Following my motto, adapted from Gandhi: Cover the ass you want to see in the world.)

[It makes sense for the pain and anxiety scales to make a comeback now that I'm on 30mg of OxyContin and 6mg Klonopin:

Pain: 6.5/10.

Anxiety: 4/10.

I see Dr ML&S April 7, at which point I hope to have my Oxy dose increased, so my pain should decrease even more. At this point I will be treated, medically, as best as is possible. This will likely mean that my pain and anxiety will both be around 3.5/10. Still debilitating, but the best that can be done, and enough to make me happy. Ish.]

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