Trismus or not?

by Cassie
(Chicago, IL)

Hi Dr. Spainhower,

I'm 22 yr. old and I've had tmj since I was 14. Sometimes, I would wake up in the morning with a locked jaw but it would go away in an hour or less. Well I woke up on December 10, almost 3 months ago, with a locked jaw. I haven't been able to open my mouth past 27mm since then. I doesn't seem to be getting better, in fact I feels like it is slowly getting worse. I've been to the doctor, who referred me to a specialist, who said I would need a splint. Well that was 2 months ago and we have been in a battle with the insurance ever since because I don't have the money to pay out of pocket for it. I have constant pain in my jaw, my inner ear has pain, my bite is off, and my neck muscles are very tight. I've been patiently waiting for it to "unspasm" but it is horrible. The specialist knew I wasn't able to open my mouth past 27 mm for more than a month and didn't seem too worried about it. My question is how do I know if this is Trismus or "Lock Jaw?" If it is Trismus, how long will it take to go back to normal? It has already been 3 months. Is there anything else you recommend?? At this point, I am so fed up with my jaw I will try anything to fix it. I just want to be able to open my mouth again.

Thank you

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