Monday, September 1, 2008

Reader experience: Chronic pain and arthritis

A few weeks ago, I got a comment on a post from someone who had lower mandibular advancement surgery 15 years ago in the same city I had mine, and is now having problems with pain and arthritis. I'm posting the comment here, so everyone can read it, as it's important to show all sides of this surgery, not just the positive results.

[I am not sure if this person had the BSSO surgery or the older version of it, and I don't know how much surgical procedures have changed in the past 15 years. I'm hoping there are less problems with newer procedures. Does anyone have information on this?]

Working From Home Today has left a new comment on your post "Three weeks ago, something cool happened":

Hi Smiling Bella,

I had jaw advancement surgery back in 1993 in SK. I wish I could say differently, but my story is not positive. Keep in mind that I don't think it's this way for everyone.

I did experience nerve damage from the surgery, I still can't feel the half of my lower lip. But that's a minor discomfort and if it were the only side effect, I wouldn't sweat it much.

The bad part for me is that over the last 15 years, my jaw has experienced severe deterioration. It's cost me thousands of dollars to be diagnosed and treated. I recently got to see Toronto's best expert on the subject. She was so amazing, so knowledgeable. After lots of testing, the diagnosis is that I will experience severe arthritis for the rest of my life. I have one more bone scan to see if it will get worse as I age. Fingers crossed, it won't. The kicker is, of course, the associated pain.

I've been prescribed industrial-strength pain relievers but I don't like the side effects. I take them only on the very bad days, about once a week and no more. The rest of the time I rely on my hard mouth splint, Shiatsu and exercise. It all helps immensely. I owe so much to the experts I've found.

I am guessing it's not like this for everyone. But I honestly don't know what I would say to people contemplating this surgery. I'm still so angry about it. I can't wait to go back to SK, where I fully intend to take my scans and MRIs into the office of the oral surgeon who conducted my original surgery. It's a conversation we need to have.

Of course, I can't prove the damage is related to the initial surgery because, as I'm told repeated by the country's best experts, adequate long term studies have never been done.

My firm belief now is that this one of the most complex joints in the human body. It should not be handled by orthodontists.

Meanwhile, I look forward to reading your blog. I suspect I'll find some excellent advice. Congrats on your braces!

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