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rosemary83494 rosemary83494

Aching jaws

I am having a problem with aching jaws first thing in the morning for about 1 hour, which then becomes a little easier, however if I press the spot close to my ears where the pain is in my jaws it is very tender all the time. Been like this for about four weeks now. I was diagnosed with Polymyalgia in September last year at which point I was put on 20mg Pred, and was doing ok having reduced down to 6mg by April this year, when I got my first flare up. Probably reduced too quickly! I am on 11mg at the moment, which has got rid of all my aches and pains except for this one in my jaw, which is pretty unpleasant. I am due to have a blood test in two weeks time to see where my levels are at, so hoping they will have gone down by then. Anybody else have this problem?

13 Replies

  • BettyE BettyE rosemary83494

    When I had a similar pain I went straight to the surgery where I was seen by two doctors; obviously they didn't think I was wasting their time. Because there was such a strong pulse they ruled out GCA and the pain did eventually go and all was well.

    Can you get to see someone sooner than two weeks? That's a long time to be worrying. In the case of visual symptoms I would go straight to A+E ( are you in UK? ) or the equivalent. Let us know how you get on. Best wishes.

  • scotth42 scotth42 rosemary83494

    Rosemary - I agree that you should first be checked to rule out GCA.  

    However, since it is worse when you first get up in the morning it may simply be that you are bruxing your teeth in your sleep and developed a TMJ problem. The preauricular point tenderness  ( in front of your ears ) is classic for this as is difficulty with opening wide. Once you rule out GCA I suggest you visit your dentist to discuss construction of a night guard to help with your grinding. It should help. 

    Good luck !

  • EileenH EileenH rosemary83494

    Does the aching jaw return when you chew food? Anything really - but especially firmer stuff?

    • rosemary83494 rosemary83494 EileenH

      Yes, I am in the UK. My jaw hurts when I move it from side to side, and I have got quite a swollen(Moon face) which might not be helping the situation. I usually check my blood pressure/pulse etc. with my home monitor, so will do that this afternoon. If it is normal then I guess no GCA. Would it help to increase my Pred dosage for a short time to see if this makes a difference? I don't have temporal pain or headache.

    • EileenH EileenH rosemary83494

      Don't think BP is necessarily a means of ruling GCA in or out. 

      If your jaw hurts moving it from side to side that sounds more like a joint problem as Scott suggests - your dentist may be more use than your GP.And no - it isn't a good idea to increase the pred dose "just in case" without good reason. 

  • sandy08116 sandy08116 rosemary83494

    Hi Rosemary - I had severe jaw claudication, where the jaw almost locked, went into a spasm when I tried to chew and had to wait a few seconds for it to settle. It hurt to chew. It was one of the symptoms of GCA which reinforced the diagnosis. With prednisone, the inflammation in the blood vessels to the jaw disappeared and so did the pain and discomfort. I had the moon face too, but that came after the jaw problem, so wasn't the cause.

    I think you should have another check - just to rule out GCA.

    • rosemary83494 rosemary83494 sandy08116

      I think I will see if I can get a Doctor's appointment on Monday and get it checked out. Does it show up in a blood test if you have GCA? Did my blood pressure and that was ok. Will they just put me on higher Pred if I have it? Thanks for all your help.

    • EileenH EileenH rosemary83494

      It MAY show in a blood test. The ESR and CRP blood markers are often raised in GCA and PMR but up to 20% do not have raised inflammatory markers. I wouldn't be confident in a GP's opinion sauing it isn't GCA, they don't have enough experience. But if there is any question it could be then you should be sent to hospital to see a rheumatologist as an emergency. Some hospitals have a fast-track set-up so you are seen in 24 hours.

    • EileenH EileenH sandy08116

      Only if it is positive - and that happens in less than half of patients.

      A negative biopsy does NOT mean you don't have GCA - it means they didn't find what they were looking for: the giant multi-nucleated cells that form between 2 layers of the artery wall and cause the swelling and reduce the diameter of the artery and so the blood flow. There are several reasons for that including the GCA is affecting other arteries but not the temporal artery and that the lesions aren't continuous, if they happen to look at slides that came from areas without lesion they won't find them.

  • sandy08116 sandy08116 rosemary83494

    Rosemary - hi, as Eileen points out doctors are mostly entry-level assessors. They don't have the skills. I was misdiagnosed a TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack) - a mini-stroke that lasts 24-hours - and sent home with a prescription of statins and an appointment to visit the stroke clinic. A few days later I kicked and screamed that I didn't think it was right; another doctor in the practice agreed and sent me to the diagnostic unit of our hospital to be assessed by vascular, neurology, heart etc consultants. If it were not for his acknowledgement that it was beyond the skills of a general practitioner, I would probably have lost the sight in one or both my eyes!

    • rosemary83494 rosemary83494 sandy08116

      Hi everyone,

       Thanks for all your input. I have seen my Doctor now, and had quite a few checks done, but as no temporal pain or headache I have had my Prednisone increased from 11mg to 12 mg to see if this helps at all. Been on this for three days now, and the pain is only on the left side of my jaw now, so hoping in a couple of days it will improve on that side. Pain killers do take the pain away, which I guess maybe it wouldn't if it was GCA, but only guessing on this one. I have asked for a referral to a rheumy as so far I have not seen one since I got Polymyalgia in September last year-bad news is it is in October! I get my next blood test on Monday, so it will be interesting to see what my levels are this time.

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