my jaw

First was worse, now is better.

There was a problem with my temporomandibular joint, on the right side of my face. The pain and stiffness has been on and off, but overall I’d say it was accruing, playing the long game. This started years ago. Yesterday, or maybe two, it reached a breaking point. The pain reached that level where you say, “enough is enough. I’ve got to at least conduct a google search about this.” And so I did.

I found a simple video with incredibly simple exercises for relieving pain. One of them simply advised me to open and close my mouth slowly. Surprisingly, I had never tried this before. I have opened my jaw in the past once or twice, only to test the limit of pain, but never before did I think to try to open it as a sort of therapeutic, stretching exercise. Other exercises included applying pressure to my jaw from each side, and pushing it back to stretch the joints.

It’s amazing how simple these exercises were, and amazing how I never thought to try them on my own. Another thing I learned is that the jaw pain can result from tension held in the jaws, and to fix that, one should be more mindful of when they are clenching their jaws. And now I’m checking in with myself more, noticing when I am anxiously clenching my jaws. Turns out, very often. So the pain from my jaws is connected to more than the little joint on the right side of my face, and partly results from anxiety, as well.

Sometimes, even seemingly trivial pains reach the point where you go to seek treatment. That crucial point is preceded by agony, and then helplessness. Sometimes, the treatment you receive is dead-easy, and the very low cost is far outweighed by how much the treatment makes you better. 

Makes me think about these everyday pains that we just accept and roll with, instead of investigating. They can be like tiny holes in a ship– eventually they could cause some serious damage, but often can just be plugged up and settled.