What to Do When a Doctor Won’t Believe in Your TMD Pain

Many people who suffer chronic illness find that they’re not just fighting their illness, they’re fighting against a doctor, and, indeed, an entire medical system, that doesn’t believe them and won’t credit their word about the pain they’re experiencing. The fight leads to years of misdiagnosis, unhelpful treatments, and, of course, ongoing pain that may be debilitating.

Many people with TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders) experience this. Doctors will recommend treatments that don’t get at the problem, including referrals to specialists who can’t help. They may say that the pain is psychological or even that a patient isn’t really feeling pain.

We’ve helped many people in this situation to find relief from their TMD pain. Here’s how you can get there, too.

When Your Doctor Doesn’t Believe You

Make Sure You’re Talking in a Way Your Doctor Understands

One difficult thing to appreciate is that doctors often communicate differently from other people. Their training has prepared them very well for understanding some types of evidence, but not necessarily others. Don’t give up on a doctor until you’ve tried to communicate with them in a way they can understand.

To make sure you’re talking in a way your doctor understands, make sure you tell the full story of your pain, including:

  • When the pain started
  • Any events or actions that you feel might have triggered your pain
  • How often and when you’ve experienced the pain before
  • A good description of the pain (is it sharp, dull, stabbing, aching, electric, etc.)
  • Any other symptoms that accompany the pain
  • How you’ve tried before to deal with pain (including any treatments you’ve already tried)

This puts the information about your pain into a format that doctors are used to dealing with. It makes it more likely that they’ll be able to see your symptoms for what they are.

Find a Doctor Who Has Time

Part of the problem with modern medicine is that doctors often have less and less time to deal with each patient. Because of the way that insurance works, it can contribute to the low margin for doctors working under the plan. To keep their office open and stay ahead of debt, doctors often have to see many patients in a day, and that means they have little time to spend with each patient.

If your doctor doesn’t give you time to share a full account of your pain, it might be time to see another doctor, one who can and will take the time to listen and try to find the root cause of your discomfort.

Find a Way to Measure Your Pain

Modern medicine is based on science, and science is based on finding ways to objectively measure phenomena in our world. As long as your pain remains subjective–just your account of it–doctors find it easy to dismiss. That’s low-quality evidence, easy for a doctor to dismiss.

This is one thing that we can offer to people with TMD: a scientific diagnosis. We have many tools that allow us to measure what’s going on with your condition. With our K-7 system, we can measure the muscle strain in your jaw, the sounds of your jaw motions, and the exact movements of your jaw. T-Scan lets us measure the precise forces in your bite. This isn’t exactly the same as measuring your pain, but it’s close. It can corroborate what you’re saying in ways that a doctor might not have been able to.

We Believe Our Patients

It is one of Dr. Nancy Nehawandian’s central beliefs: she trusts her patients and believes them when they tell her they hurt, whether it’s jaw pain, headaches, or other types of pain that might be linked to TMD. She is prepared to work tirelessly to help them find an answer to their pain, whether that means TMD treatment or a referral to someone who might be able to provide better service.

To learn whether Dr. Nehawandian can help you, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.

By |September 12th, 2018|TMJ|