Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) can make seemingly simple tasks like eating, yawning, and speaking painful and unpleasant. Jaw pain, although not usually a life-threatening condition, disrupts your life in big ways. For Erie high school senior Elena Stotts, jaw pain even keeps her from attending more than a handful of classes per week. Despite her pain, Elena is working hard to keep her life moving forward.
Elena Stotts’ Battle with Jaw Pain
To anyone who meets her, Elena is a self-motivated teen with a colorful fashion sense to match her bright personality. She is active in student government and works hard in her classes. You wouldn’t know by looking at her just how much pain she deals with on a daily basis.
Elena Stotts suffers from progressive condylar resorption, a degenerative condition that affects the temporomandibular joint. Her pain first developed in December 2012, and has been impacting her life ever since. She has undergone several surgeries to manage her pain and keep her jaw mobile, and has sought treatment with a number of experienced professionals with a working knowledge of TMJ. Unfortunately, TMJ treatment options that help many people have not been able to do much for Elena because of the degenerative nature of her disease.
Elena hopes to have surgery in the summer of 2015 to stop the degeneration of her jaw joints, but the surgery she needs costs nearly $80,000. Her insurance will not cover the surgery because it is considered an “elective” surgery to correct a non life-threatening condition. Her classmates have rallied in support of her condition, setting out with fundraising ideas to help earn money for the surgery. Elena set up a donation page of her own as well, with the hopes of raising the full $80,000 by summer 2015.
Understanding Condylar Resorption
Condylar resorption is a rare form of TMJ that usually develops before the age of 20 and is 9 times more likely to appear in females than males. This condition is degenerative in nature, causing the mandibular condyles (part of your jaw joint) to be broken down in a process called resorption. Resorption is when your body breaks down hard tissue like bone and absorbs the cells. People who use ill-fitting dentures also experience resorption of the jaw because the body will try to break down unused bone tissue.
Like other types of TMJ, this condition causes facial pain, popping and clicking of the jaw, jaw pain, and limited jaw mobility. Due to its degenerative nature, however, this type of TMJ may require surgery to repair the damaged joints and stop the resorption process.
Taking Action for Your Own Jaw Pain
Many people suffer from debilitating jaw pain like Elena Stotts. You don’t have to have a degenerative form of TMJ for these conditions to disrupt your life. Most TMJ can be managed without surgery through professional treatment.