TMJ pain treatment support network The Case of the Nearby Neighbor Patient Flickr cc credit KlearNØDEIt was a strange day last week when I met this new patient from about 20 miles away. She came in with a bad attitude -it was obvious what was going on – there was pain in her face and you could see if from 20 feet away! I palpated the muscles of the head/neck region and almost everything was incredibly painful -she just hurt everywhere! I knew for sure that I could help her and told her she came to the right place. The problem came up when I ordered the MRI of the jaw joints. She became very angry that she would have to drive to Tysons Corner to Novant imaging and there was no MRI center down the street from her house. I tried to explain that for us she was considered ‘local’- i.e. one of the neighbors.

The funny thing is that while she was in our office we had a family from Kuwait and New York here at the same time. As it turned out, these families were talking to each other about the difficulties of finding someone who understood TMD and craniofacial issues and neither family seemed to mind traveling as the patients were starting to feel better. It made me wonder if this local person was just in so much pain at all times that she was angry about everything that got in her way- like a little drive to see the TMJ guy!

So here I sit in my little office on a rainy and cold Monday morning. I have already seen seven TMD patients as of 10:30 this morning. They are all feeling a bit better overall, which is pretty darned good considering how they started in so much pain. A couple of them just got their appliances last week and have remarked how things are ‘already changing’ for the better- that makes my day when I hear those words. You never know what to expect in our office. And then there is the one from Colorado who feels better and wants me to finish even though the discs are still not in place. In addition -if I start to lower the appliance there will be postural changes that need to be addressed, yet there is no one near her to help make that happen, so we are not ready to lower the device. If she lived here, I would have Dr. Logan Cooper adjust her accordingly. Again, without the local resources, it is hard to finish treating someone who really does live far away!

For all these reasons, I am trying very hard to increase our network of PT and osteopath doctors all over the country, and indeed the world. More recently, I put the ever so famous Dr. Tony O’Connor from Cork, Ireland, on my list of great people to work with. He has a myofunctional therapist in his office who is doing great work for a couple of my patients who are from Dublin. It saves the patients time and money on the travel. Yet, I am still lacking in such resources in other areas of the world. I guess it’s a matter of time- we will get there one day!