It all started very suddenly in March 2011, practically over night I developed an intense headache, dizziness and heavy fatigue. This was followed a few weeks later by a constant feeling of full ears. The fewer hours of sleep I had, the more my mental state suffered. I began to feel anxious and stressed to the point that both my home and work life were beginning to deteriorate.
I approached my GP who was unable to diagnose the issue. I saw over 20 other healthcare professionals – from cardiologists and Neuro-otologists to Neurologists and Endocrinologists about the problem. There was nothing abnormal in any blood tests or scans taken. Everyone said the same thing; I was medically fine. I was even told it was in my mind and eventually I was left to deal with the issues alone.
Of my own volition, I decided to approach an orthodontist believing it might be an issue with my teeth. Gradually, through a process of elimination and having self-diagnosed from entering my symptoms into a search engine on the Internet, Patrick’s name appeared as one of the UK’s leading practitioners in TMJD.
I met with Patrick at his clinic in April 2012 - over a year after my symptoms had begun. I was asked to fill out a questionnaire and from my description of the symptoms Patrick diagnosed possible TMJD. An MRI scan confirmed that this was the case. Patrick said it possibly stemmed from previous orthodontic treatment and/or a bicycle accident.
Patrick’s confidence in my diagnosis alone contributed dramatically to the immediate lift of my stress and anxiety. He took impressions of my teeth and a mouth splint was fitted, which I wore each night. From the first night I experienced immediate pain relief and the fullness in my ears started to dissipate.
Four months later, all symptoms were still improving and Patrick took another set of impressions of my teeth – this time for a day splint, which I wore in addition to the night splint.
Another four months went by and the maximum benefits of the splint therapy had been achieved, with all symptoms having improved further. Patrick recommended surgery on the jaw joints to achieve complete recovery and in January 2013 I had TMJ surgery.
In total, I had a nine-month recovery period after surgery. After two weeks I was back at work part time and after four weeks full time. After three months I was 90% recovered and after nine months 100% recovered, with all of the original symptoms completely gone..
TMJD had taken me from being an energised, full time athlete to a constantly drained and depressed zombie-like state that no medical professional could help or give me answers to. Patrick turned this around and gave me my life back. Had the medical professionals I encountered been aware of TMJD, I would not have had anywhere near the amount of stress and the problem would have been resolved in far less time.
Chris Cullen, Local Authority Project Manager, 28 years old.