Home » Doctors » From concussion to TMJ

From concussion to TMJ

What am I talking about?

Some of you might recall I took an elbow to the left side of my face on October 2nd 2013. 

Almost 2 years ago…

I wrote about the hit and about my not so quick recovery in the following posts:

It’s not nice to hit
Slowly but surely
That was 2 years ago…. 

Every time I tell the story of the elbow hit, I have to say it was Emily that did this to me and I feel compel to add that she didn’t do it on purpose.  

She couldn’t hit me that way if she tried. 

She doesn’t always controlled all of her body parts. Over the years, I’ve been bitten, slapped, scratched, vomitted on, coughed on, sneezed on and much more. 

The elbow, was an accident. 

Why am I still talking about it?

It looks like I am not done suffering from the hit, I just adapted to my new reality and now it caught up to me. 

A pain in my left arm 3 months ago, led me to see an amazing massage therapist who would work on my arm and hand. 

After 3 weekly visits, I felt better but still had issues so she recommended a chiropractor. 

I had to tell him about my not so proud history of hurting myself. 

I explained that for the last 2 years I have massive headaches when I travel by plane.  I talked about my headaches and earaches and eventually told him I tought something was wrong with my jaw. 

Well… almost 2 years after the famous elbow to the head, I now understand a little bit better the damages that were done. 

Not only did I get a concussion, I also got myself a TMJ (or TMD)

Last Monday, my massage therapist started adjusting my jaw and on Thursday my chiropractor took a shot at it too. 

I’m in discomfort but full of hope that this will help me in the long run. 

If you want to know more about TMJ, keep reading. 

WebMd says:

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD, TMJ)

Common symptoms include:

Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide (yes, that applies)

Problems when you try to open your mouth wide.  (Yes, that’s an issue)

Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position (I have been catching myself biting so hard that it could give me headaches)

Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful. (Maybe the popping a little)

A tired feeling in your face (yes, I can still feel where the elbow made contact)

Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite — as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly (can’t chew gum anymore for more than a minute or so)

Swelling on the side of your face (I don’t think so)

You may also have toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, earaches, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). (Yes to all of these)

Home Treatments for TMD:

There are things you can do on your own to help relieve TMD symptoms. Your doctor may suggest you try some of these remedies together.

1. Take over-the-counter medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like naproxen or ibuprofen, can relieve muscle pain and swelling.

2. Use moist heat or cold packs. Apply an ice pack to the side of your face and temple area for about 10 minutes. Do a few simple jaw stretches (if your dentist or physical therapist OKs them). When you’re done, hold a warm towel or washcloth to the side of your face for about 5 minutes. Perform this routine a few times each day.

3. Eat soft foods. Add yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains to your menu. Cut foods into small pieces so you chew less. Skip hard, crunchy foods (like pretzels and raw carrots), chewy foods (like caramels and taffy), and thick or large bites that require you to open wide.

4. Avoid extreme jaw movements. Keep yawning and chewing (especially gum or ice) to a minimum and don’t yell, sing, or do anything that forces you to open wide.

5. Don’t rest your chin on your hand. Don’t hold the phone between your shoulder and ear. Practice good posture to reduce neck and facial pain.

6. Keep your teeth slightly apart as often as you can. This will relieve pressure on your jaw. Put your tongue between your teeth to control clenching or grinding during the day.

7. Learn relaxation techniques to help loosen up your jaw. Ask your dentist if you need physical therapy or massage. Consider stress reduction therapy as well as biofeedback


And now, to make you smile…  As we are experiencing the warmest September ever, the snowblowers are out for sale…  I guess winter is coming!


12 thoughts on “From concussion to TMJ

  1. Hi Pascale,

    I just came across this post of yours while doing some research. I’m going through the EXACT same situation. Treating a “concussion” with no improvement for 2+ years only to find out it’s a TMJ issue.

    I’m wondering about treatment options you’re using – is it only chiro and massage, or is there anything else you’ve tried?


    • Hi Jeff,

      Chiro and massage. I alternate monthly visits. I sleep with a bite plate, avoid chewy food and big sandwich/burgers, never chew gum and try my hardest to recognize what stresses me in order to avoid locking my jaw.
      I don’t think it will ever go away…

      How are you doing?

  2. Reblogged this on Lessons from my daughter and commented:

    It’s been a little over 3 and a half year since the famous “elbow to the head” hit and I am now alternating monthly visits with my awesome massage therapist and amazing chiropractor.

    My dentist agreed to get me a bite plate to stop me from locking my jaw at night which triggers headaches while undoing all the good work Sasha and Todd are doing on my jaw when I visit them.

    I know now that my jaw and all the muscles around it will forever need gentle care…

    Is there a good news? Yes, I went away on business last week and my ears didn’t kill me when landing to go get my connection or when I landed at my final destination. Two stops in the past would have been really painful. I also didn’t land with a massive headache which was an amazing feeling and left me much more productive the next day!

    Yeah for small improvements!


  3. Pingback: Don’t judge what you don’t know! | Lessons from my daughter

    • Apparently the fact that it’s “only” been 2 years is good as there is hope it could be fixed. I like the emphasis they put on “only” 2 years… I can’t imagine this being a forever thing and really hope it will go away…

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