Saturday, February 20, 2010

My (Awesome) Visit with the TMJ Specialist

My neurologist recommended me to a TMJ specialist because I clench my jaw and grind my teeth at night. The specialist was at an oral surgery clinic that is part of a larger hospital; it wasn't at the actual hospital but it was on the campus. Check out the spectacular building!


I was just as impressed with the doctor as I was the building - ok, more. I started with x-rays and after just a few minutes, the doctor brought them in and she clearly explained what everything was and said that everything looked normal. Then she did a physical exam and that's when she noticed the wear on my teeth, popping, and tenderness. She said that my TMJ isn't acute but it still could be causing some - probably not all, but some - of my headaches.

Here's our battle plan:
  • Take Aleve twice a day (morning & night)
  • Do a moist heat massage on the jaw and temporal areas once a day
  • Diet modification (GREEEAAAAAT....)
    • No gum, chewy candy
    • No bagels, pizza crust, tough meats (cut meats into small pieces)
    • Reduce sweets
    • No big bites: cut apples, sandwiches, carrots, etc. into pieces
  • Mouth guard
I've done all but the last one. I'm waiting on my insurance to approve the mouth guard, and if/once approved, I'll wear it 24/7. After 60 days I can stop the Aleve, then after a while I'll be able to stop the other steps and will eventually decrease the amount of time I wear the mouth guard until I'm wearing it nights only.

I love that I don't have any new drugs to take (I was afraid I'd have to try a muscle relaxer which I tried for grinding/clenching in the past), and I'm also happy that while the doctor didn't promise complete relief from my headaches, she thinks the frequency will reduce. And she has seen plenty of headache patients, so she knows what she's talking about. I mean, just look at that gorgeous building she works in! :)

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Double Book Review: elimination diet

    As a Valentine's present to my readers (sorry, not very romantic) I'm doing a double book review, with lots of pictures!

    First, a much-talked-about book in the headache world, "Heal Your Headaches: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain" by David Buchholz, M.D. This book outlines a three-part plan: (1) Avoid rebound-causing medications, (2) Reduce your triggers, particularly foods that commonly trigger migraines, and (3) Try preventive medication if the first two steps aren't working.

    This is the book I've been using to guide my elimination diet. It says to try the diet for four months, which I'm hoping to do, although it's a big challenge...then again, so are headaches! I've pretty much completed the first step, although I still take one or two Butalbitals a month (If I remember correctly, I'm supposed to get down to zero for a while and then add to once or twice a month if needed). The elimination diet is going ok, and the book brings up an interesting point about preventive meds. Dr. Buchholz claims that they won't work as well unless you're doing the elimination diet along with taking the meds. This is why I've decided to try them again - I don't want to take anything I've tried before though, because I know about the bad side effects, so I started a new one (which I mentioned in my previous post).

    The only negative about the book was I felt like I was being talked down to at times, but the author also talks down toward other doctors who are getting it wrong. It may be my own sensitivity, and I wouldn't let that stop you from reading this book.

    The second book I'd like to review is "Migraine-Free Cooking!" by Heidi Gunderson.


    This book uses "Heal Your Headache" as a guideline for recipes. I'm being a little stricter than these two books for now by avoiding tomatoes and pork, which are not-as-common migraine triggers, but I may add those back soon. I'm waiting to see a reduction in headaches, and so far that hasn't happened (it can take a while, I've heard).

    Instead of writing a lengthy review of Heidi's book, I thought I'd let my pictures of a few of her recipes that I've tried speak for themselves. Enjoy! :) 

    Garlic Butter Shrimp

    Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches



    Blue-Strawberry Smoothie


    Brown Sugar Chicken

    Seasoned Salmon

    Tuesday, February 9, 2010

    New medication: Zonisamide (Zonegran)

    I saw my neurologist today and told her I was willing to try another preventative medication. Although I've tried several - I'd guess at least 20 - and tend to have the horrible side effects, I had 27 headaches last month, which is completely ridiculous. Also, a book I read (I WILL do a review soon, I promise) said that preventatives sometimes won't work unless you're doing an elimination diet at the same time. So, I'm trying Zonisamide (brand name Zonegran), a seizure medication. Has anyone ever tried this for headaches - if so, please comment and share your experience! Also I'm weaning off the Ropinirole.

    I have to admit that I've cheated on my elimination diet. I went on a ski trip the other weekend and ate some common migraine trigger foods. Of course I've had daily headaches so I didn't notice a difference. Plus I was on Aleve all weekend because skiing (and falling) makes you sore!!! But I will take it more seriously moving forward.
    Me & my hot husband in our dorky ski gear

    Finally I'd like to thank Emily (WinnyNinny PooPoo) for mentioning my blog in the post below. I encourage you to check it out and share your thoughts!

    Does Anyone Really Know What Causes Migraines?

    Monday, February 1, 2010

    MRI Results

    Thanks to the electronic health portal of my unnamed health center, I've received my MRI results with notes online. My official results:

    1. Normal brain MRI
    2. Incidental congenital failure of segmentation anomaly and C7-T1, otherwise normal cervical spine.

    From a past X-ray at a chiropractic office, I already knew about #2. Basically two of my neck discs are missing the thing that goes between them. Can't remember the technical terms, but I've received chiropractic treatments and physical therapy and neither helped.

    Most everyone told me I wouldn't want anything to show up in the brain MRI, but I really did. I want an answer - a reason for my pain. I can't begin to explain the mixed emotions I'm feeling right now, but most of all I'm disappointed.