Before I paid two doctors to certify my medical condition for New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, I prepared by creating a medical summary — obviously for the doctor’s file, but also so I wouldn’t have to verbally relay the information. (Talking for any length of time is painful for TMJ sufferers, especially during a stressful visit to the doctor.)
I thought it might be helpful for other patients to see an example, in case they want to prepare one of their own. It’s hard to sum up a 25-year history, but I tried to make it as short as possible.
Prepared April 2013
INTRACTABLE PAIN SUMMARY
Fifty-year old woman suffering from constant pain for about 25 years. Began with symptoms of headaches and clicking in the jaw; diagnosed with Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) at 16-years old by family dentist. Condition likely caused by competitive gymnastics. Constant pain began about 5 years later as toothache which remained unresolved after numerous dental treatments. Following about 7 years of attempting all available TMJ treatments, during which the pain level increased, TMJ surgery was performed in 1991 by oral surgeon. Surgeon performed bilateral arthroscopy and removal of meniscus on right side due to perforation too large to repair. Surgery made pain worse. Without treatment options available, home therapy program commenced.
Throughout the next 8 years, constant pain traveled into neck, shoulders, and throughout upper body. Eventually saw various medical specialists, including pain management specialists, trying all available treatments, none of which brought pain level to manageable level. Finally began medication regimen with pain management doctor in 2002, while continuing home therapy program. Became disabled in 2003. Upon death of this doctor in 2010, jumped from pain specialist to pain specialist, unable to stabilize condition or manage side effects of medications. In 2011, the political climate against use of narcotics to manage pain became even more intense, and finally just gave up. No medication for about 1 1/2 years and unable to continue home therapy program.
Severe TMJ Syndrome
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Four herniated cervical disks/chronic cervicalgia
Lumbar disc degeneration/facet arthritis
Shoulder bursitis/frozen shoulder
Mild spinal stenosis
Bilateral tracking dysfunction and early degeneration/knees (patella)
Fibromyalgia (muscle pain)
Chronic then Intractable Pain Syndromes
MRI of temporomandibular joints (11/1/90)
X-ray, right shoulder (9/16/98)
X-ray, neck (10/21/98)
MRI of temporomandibular joints (3/31/00)
MRI of cervical spine (3/31/00)
MRI of shoulders (4/1/00)
X-ray, cervical spine (12/13/00)
X-ray, lumbar spine (12/13/00)
MRI of knees (1/9/03)
EMG for carpel tunnel (7/3/03)
X-ray, right hand (11/3/03)
MRI of cervical spine (3/24/04)
MRI of cervical spine (5/15/09)
Medications (all types)
Trigger point injections
EXPECTATIONS FOR, AND BENEFITS OF, MEDICAL CANNIBAS USAGE
It is impossible to explain the physical and psychological effects of chronic pain on day-to-day life. It is, of course, disabling. But when hope is lost for any relief, it is so easy to just become inert, which can become an early death sentence.
I do not expect cannabis to reduce my pain levels; rather, I expect it to give me the ability to distract myself from the constant pain. The ability to focus on things outside of the pain.
I would like to be able to sleep longer than 2 hours at a time. I would like to obtain some control over my constant anxiety and related conditions (like eczema). I expect it to allow me to increase movement and flexibility. I hope it works as an anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and as a sleep aid. I expect that the side effects will be minimal, especially compared to prescription medications.
STANDARD TREATMENTS HAVE BEEN TRIED AND FAILED
After 25 years of both invasive and non-invasive treatments, and extensive research into TMJ and the disease of intractable pain, my conclusion is that the medical profession cannot help me. I have learned enough over the past quarter of a century to design and implement my own home therapy program, which I have been unable to perform after discontinuation of the medication regimen.
Over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, and recent attention to the problem may initiate research and development actions. At this point in time, the only new pain treatment involves Ketamine. Recent knowledge and research on the brain may eventually lead to new treatments, including treatments involving stem cells, but those advancements look too far into the future to be of help to me in my lifetime.