"TMJ" that's what you call inflammation of the Temporomandibular Joint.
One picture is worth many words here. Check out the graphic:
That's right, the temporomandibular joint is quite simply your jaw hinge. We have two of them, left and right.
The condition known as "TMJ" is when something goes out of whack with that hinge, possibly caused by: nite time teeth grinding, gum chewing, vigorous (super vigorous) kissing, eating cement, stress, misalignment of the upper and lower mandibles, or bone deterioration.
Now here's what TMJ feels like:
Imagine baking a delicious muffin, and in the batter of that muffin you've mixed in three or four pebbles (not the cereal but the rocks).
Now imagine eating that muffin with great relish and gusto never knowing when BANG!, you bite in to one of the pebbles.
It's painful, it's disconcerting, and it's a real appetite-killer.
I know all this because a week ago I got diagnosed with TMJ. Now, I'm not a teeth grinder, and so far it appears that my jaws are in alignment (xrays next week will confirm), I like kissing but not demolition derby-style, and I don't routinely chew on cement.
I'm hoping its related to stress or anything other than bone deterioration. I have enough arthritis (neck and foot) to worry about this sort of thing. And, of course, as a seasonal Park Ranger, the closest thing I get to health benefits are the free band-aids in the first aid kit.
My doctor put me on anti-inflammatory meds as well as muscle relaxers (which could also be called "knock-out drops"). Soup, pudding, and applesauce are about all the menu choices I currently enjoy. Fortunately, my very humane supervisor at the battlefield has graciously rearranged my schedule at the park so that I won't be doing talks or tours for a full week (as my doctor recommended).
Not eating pizza for a while is tolerable but not being able to give talks at the battlefield for a week is going to be the hard part, that's like breathing to me.
So here's a request from your old buddy Ranger Mannie:
If you have, or have had experience with TMJ and have any advice, tips or insights, please send them to me as "comments" to this post.
Certainly, "quit your whining!" has a degree of legitimacy though I'm looking for comments that may be a little more instructive or helpful.
Like: Have any of you tried acupuncture?
I'm looking forward to hearing from you, but now, some pudding is calling my name.