MADISON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Elizabeth Wharry said she lived with the pain of Temporomandibular joint disorder for decades.
"From the time I was nine-years-old, and that was 45 years ago, it was pain from one degree or another," said Wharry. "It was locking up. It was meals where you could hear cracking and snapping."
She said she was constantly chewing to tire out the muscles, to get relief, but gained weight. Like other TMJ patients, she tried every remedy. Nothing worked.
"I think some of the symptoms of TMJ are headaches; you have ear aches," said Selman. "Of course the classic clicking and popping, pain, range of motion is very limited."
In fact, the patient's jaw can stick or "lock." An acute form can be debilitating as it was for Wharry. Dr. Selman said at some point about 75 percent of the population experiences the condition.
The pain usually comes from a specific cause.
"Usually it's hyperactive muscles and your muscles you chew with," said Selman. The drug used to treat it is something not often seen in dentistry.
"Now, recently, Botox is [the treatment]. What it is, is a clarified protein that relaxes the skeletal muscles. (…) Once they relax, most of the symptoms of TMJ go away," said Selman.
The Botox injections are given around the head and face.
"I was very careful to follow all the directions afterwards, such as not putting my face down below my heart," said Wharry. "I started to feel this becoming softer and more pliant within an hour. I was dumbfounded."
Wharry said the Botox treatment have helped a lot.
"I've lost 8 and a half pounds because I'm not chewing constantly," said Wharry. "I feel more confident."
More importantly the pain is gone, no more popping noises during dinner and she sleeps better.
Botox is expensive and in this case, not covered by insurance, but the results for the patient are priceless.