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Facial Pains and Unstable Upper Back

Hello everyone,

It's been 5 years so I'm giving this a shot. My name is Grant, and I'm a 22 y/o male currently residing in the Dominican Republic for work.

When I was 17, shortly after breaking up with my ex-girlfriend at the time (in November 2009) who did some very nasty things, I fell into a slight depression. I mention this because not even a month after was the first time when I got serious pains in my right jaw/cheek area. It was killing me, and I had no idea what to do at the time. I come from a fairly poor family, so instead of crying for help and going to the doctors I tried my best to get through it. It was so sharp and painful, that I ended up twisting my jaw to pop in an attempt to possibly loosen up a pinched nerve. It helped! The pain numbengly subsided after 5 minutes. THe Ex-GF comes in place because at some point during the 4 years of trying to figure out what exactly went wrong I thought it might have been caused by stress. But following the timeline...

It came back a few days later. And it kept coming back. Once a day, for about 20-30 minutes, I had some sharp pain. Either I was getting used to it or I found some way to manage it - it was a lot more bearable than the first time, but still bad. So I would continue cracking my back on chairs by leaning against a low back of a chair and popping my right jaw.

I finished my year in HS and shortly after continued on to college. What changed here - I have no idea, but the pains were getting worse. It became even harder to focus on studying, as I found literally sit in class trying to focus with tears rolling out of my right eye. I ended up drinking lots of pain killers and skipping classes. This is when I decided to see someone. I suspected I might have Trigeminal Neuralgia or a perphirated eardrum. I went to an ENT, and after three hours he had no idea what is wrong with me. he recommended a neurologist, but I ended up not going due to a lot of reasons. Later on I removed my wisdom tooth in hopes that I was just being dumb mistaking a tooth ache for something more serious. No result. During this time my left side would start to hurt, but very quietly, barely noticeable compared to the right side. Only one side would hurt at a time. It would get as bad as hurting 6 times a day, each time 20-60 minutes, to a point where my heart was skipping beats, my head and face felt like they were going to explode, and the only thing that would truly help weren't even pain killers - sometimes popping the jaw (which sometimes actually made it hurt even worse) and laying down. Up until this day, and I work from home, laying down is the best solution. But I'll get to a more detailed description of that later.

Fast forwarding a year and a half after joining college I quit it due to bad grades, a terrible relationship with the conservatory, where I was studying, and money issues. Now the right side of my face was hurting less often and the left side started hurting stronger and became the primary facial pain source. Around this time I noticed my back was making clicking, popping, "grinding-on-sand" type of sounds, but ONLY when my face was hurting. Since then it's been pretty much the same.

As of the last several days the left side almost stopped hurting. The right side, bastard, is back as bad as ever. The pains start from the moment I wake up to around mid-day, having these "attacks" occur around 3-5 times on average per morning. Sometimes in the evening. The pains are really bad - it's hard to breath, my heart almost feels like it stops at times, even with my developed pain tolerance I can't help but cringe and twist in pain. I'm limited on money and time, and I mean I literally have no excuse or option to "just go see a doctor". If I'm going to do it, I want to know more about my condition from people who might have gone through this or know something of it so that I don't get anymore "I don't know what wrong with you, but here's the bill"

I will also include a, what might seem like very odd, but very honest observations that I have taken note of over the past 5 years of this pain:
• Cracking, popping, grinding sound in upper back (area around C7 - T3)
• Pressing specific spots going from the mentioned area of the back up the spine, neck, and then starting from where the trigeminal begins (a little up and back from the temple. I can locate the nerve, press it causing all the pain to gather up there, which is still more tolerable than the facial pain for some reason)
• Popping the jaw used to cause the pain to disappear, but now it just creates the same grinding/cracking effect as with the spine, and possibly added pain, but over the years popping the jaw has become too easy due to it being lose so it's hard not to do it on accident while in pain
• Really hot water poured onto the face (under a shower) eliminates the pain, except for when it hurts the worse (like on a 8.5/10...I can barely move and function at that point) but it still helps reduce the pain by A LOT.
• And odd one here - a lot of the times I get the pains, I have a need to take a #2 (yes, that kind). I don't know how this might correlate, but I'm thinking extra pressure on the nerves in the spine might be sometimes triggering the pain. Maybe? c(O.o)
• Stretching to the sides and twisting motions crack the back easily, but I suspect cause even more pain later on, while stretching forward while either standing up or sitting and taking in as much air into my lungs as possible helps "stretch" the back and alleviate the pain, but it hasn't been able to help with the issue, just the symptoms at times.
• At some point I was visiting the local beaches every week and swimming A LOT - I don't remember the pain being present for about a month. That was the quietest month in my life in regards to the pain, but I don't have that access and time anymore. I know it would be wise to start again, but I'm not looking for solutions here as much as I'm trying to determine the cause, and this is just more detailed information for whoever is reading.
• Ibuprofen never helped much, Naproxen-Sodium was slightly helpful, and Acetominophen is a charm at times. Other "pain-killers" that have helped a lot are THC (marijuana) and Endorphin (orgasms). With THC I would notice there is pain, but in an odd way it would be so numb it wouldn't bother me. With Endorphin I would get a pulsating, warm sensation going up my spine from the location up into the whole side of the face, eliminating the pain almost immediately, but this would only help with medium-level pain. Higher levels are dulled for a moment and start hurting, what seems like, even more.

Another reason I'm looking for your help is because I don't really trust many doctors to begin with, and especially those in the Dominican Republic, so I want to know as much about this as possible, IF possible.

Please help :(


  • It is a disorder of the jaw, and it may be at least some of what you are experiencing.
  • sandi said:
    It is a disorder of the jaw, and it may be at least some of what you are experiencing.
    TMJ was actually the first thing I ever suspected, but I really don't think TMJ is the issue. Like I said, if I stretch my back forward to, I guess, release some pinched nerve in the spinal cord, the pain goes away almost entirely. Moving the jaw a little left/right helps just a tiny bit, but I only think it does because the muscles do stiffen up a bit during these pain attacks but not that strong. I can still freely move my jaw, and the are around my eyes and cheekbone will still continue to hurt.

    I suspect it is a back issue because I used to crack my back a lot. A LOT. Since I was a kid I would always get pinched nerves that would make inhaling cause a stinging pain in my ribs, but that would easily be fixed with a good pop. In school I would always crack my back against the chairs, like a bad habit, and I suspect that is where the issue arose. Also, laying down on my front helps straighten the back and the pain goes away usually within 10-15 minutes. THe pain doesn't start after eating, or any major movement of the jaw. It is usually early in the morning after sleeping and after sitting in front of the computer all day working, studying, or playing. I sleep on my back, because my neck would be too stiff after sleeping on my front. In front of the computer I constantly change how I sit every 5-15 minutes either leaning forward or backwards. Keeping a straight posture for long periods of time is impossible for me while sitting.

    A co-worker suggested I might have an improper alignment of the spinal cord and said I should see a chiropractor soon. I probably will go to the doctors any day now just in case.

    Thank you for your suggestions and I'll keep them in mind!

    Any other suggestions/help will be greatly appreciated!
  • Jonny ZeroJonny Zero Posts: 69
    edited 09/16/2014 - 10:02 AM
    Why did you not take the ENT's advice and see a Neurologist? u need to see a Doctor my friend. We can play the guessing game all day with all your symptoms and give youa number of things it could be. You need to put your trust in someone who can really help you. Unfortunately, you are where you are. Do some research on the Doctors in your area and go see one!

    4 Level (C5-T2) Posterior Instrumented Fusion w/ Decompression (Car Accident in January 2014)
    And I can't forget that I'm not ashamed, to be the person that I am today.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 09/19/2014 - 6:16 AM
    and especially the cord, you should NOT see a chiropractor. You need to consult with a board certified spine surgeon first. Let them order the proper imaging studies, examine you, and then go over suggested treatment options.
    Allowing anyone to manipulate your spine, with a suspected spine condition is dangerous and can have disastrous outcomes, especially if there is a suspected cord problem.
  • This is your life my friend.... I don't know about you, but I would certainly want someone with a serious amount of experience only!

    Backyard Mechanic or Licensed Mechanic? Do you see where I'm going with this?
    4 Level (C5-T2) Posterior Instrumented Fusion w/ Decompression (Car Accident in January 2014)
    And I can't forget that I'm not ashamed, to be the person that I am today.
  • I had terrible jaw problems I attributed to TMJ, but it turned out to be related to my C5/C6 herniation, spurs, etc. It all disappeared after my ACDF.
  • Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
    edited 09/19/2014 - 11:48 AM
    A few months before my surgery, my "TMJ" got much worse. I didn't have any idea it could be from my spinal problem, but apparently it was. Five months post-op, I'm still waiting for some of my pre-op symptoms to resolve (as the nerve heals), but the jaw problems are gone. When I have a flare-up, I might get a hint of it again, but that's it.
  • Jules27 said:
    A few months before my surgery, my "TMJ" got much worse. I didn't have any idea it could be from my spinal problem, but apparently it was. Five months post-op, I'm still waiting for some of my pre-op symptoms to resolve (as the nerve heals), but the jaw problems are gone. When I have a flare-up, I might get a hint of it again, but that's it.
    Oh? So same thing, basically? Could you give me more info as to your spinal problems, please?
  • NcastNNcast Posts: 4
    edited 09/19/2014 - 12:02 PM
    Oh, I didn't notice the other responses. I'll definitely take the advise! I honestly just didn't know who to go to and felt like going to a neurologist would be a waste of time, but a board certified spine surgeon sounds lovely. I really hope I can find some here, as I will be looking through a list of english-speaking doctors provided by the U.S. Embassy here in the Dominican Republic.
    I'm staying optimistic and hopefully will get enough money gathered up soon as I was indirectly robbed of the money I would have used to pay for college and the doctors. :\

    Thank you again, everyone!
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