The Great Impostor Essay

1918 words - 8 pages

It is known as the temporomandibular joint. Located in front of your ears where your jaw meets your face, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction can pose for years as one of several other conditions. It is often refereed to as "phantom pain" because TMJ dysfunction can create everything from migraine level headaches to loss of hearing, blurred vision, depression, backaches, and often excruciating facial pain. In some cases, years of pain and frustration go by as the victim proceeds from one doctor to another. Thousands of dollars are spent, as they continue searching for the true cause of possibly the most mysterious and difficult to diagnose condition around.Sometimes known as "crooked jaws," temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD in some circles, can best be described as joint stress due to an uneven bite. The symptoms are varied and often illogical. Some people endure multiple root canals and many related surgical procedures before the source of pain in their throbbing teeth is pinpointed. These sufferers are often told, "it is all in your head," adding emotional pain which compounds the physical symptoms. Approximately eighty percent of these people are women.TMD has been an unclaimed stepchild of both dentistry and medicine for the past one hundred years; making it difficult for sufferers to obtain coverage for treatment under any insurance policy. Only in the last 15 to 20 years has much success been obtained in treating this age-old problem. It is actually mentioned in the bible when describing a time of great distress, "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Grinding the teeth, mostly during sleep, and daytime clenching is the main cause for TMD.Another common culprit is a blow to the head and/or face. Remember Burt Reynolds' widely rumored bout with Aids? He actually had TMD after receiving a blow to the jaw while performing his own movie stunt. It is important to note that mental stress and structural deformities can also cause TMD. In recent years, the link between jaw-joint dysfunction and a long list of other common head and body ailments has been firmly established. These may include recent dental work, extraction of teeth or missing back teeth, birth trauma due to delivery complications, and traction involving the head, jaws, and neck. While the findings show the majority of the country's 20 million chronic sufferers are middle-aged white women, TMD knows no boundaries.Today's computer age has caused a whole new menu of stressors for our structure. Sitting for hours upon hours, day after day, week after week, and month after month, etc., is bound to cause shortening of the iliopsoas, pectoralis and anterior neck flexors. Straining at computer screens, ever leaning forward, places our temporomandibular joint in front of its natural position. One of the first indications of an impending TM problem is a feeling of "Head Heaviness." It is a very distinct feeling of tiredness in the neck...

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