Winter is finally upon us and although mild weather so far, I still find my jaw plays up horribly. Cold, damp, foggy or snowy weather is the arch enemy of us jaw patients.
Ever since my first surgery back in 2011 my jaw has played up terribly in cold weather. At first I thought it was all to do with the metal plates and screws, but as the years have gone on and my plates have been removed, I have come to discover that it much more complex than that.
When I had my upper and lower plates and screws in place, the cold would literally sting my face and nose. I was really uncomfortable and at times it was so bad it made my eyes water. A year after my original orthognathic surgery I asked my surgeon to remove all my plates and screws. The upper screws were in my naval cavity and causing horrible sinus infections and because of the lack of flesh around my lower jaw, the lower screws were close to the surface and causing my nerves and muscles to fire up.
I had my plates and screws removed in the December of 2012. After my plates were removed I could breathe so much better and more freely and there was a lot let tension around my lower jaw. However, I still found it really painful to go out in the cold.
According to studies, changes in barometric pressure and temperature drops can trigger pain by causing air pockets throughout the body to expand and/or shrink, putting pressure on the nerves and muscles. Winter can be the worst for jaw joints because the atmosphere is continuously altering and becoming colder. In warm, dry weather, your joints tend to be naturally looser, but they can tighten up, tremble, and contract when it is cold or damp outside.
So here is what I do to try and combat the cold:
I try to reduce the amount of time I spend outside in the cold and opt for warm and comfortable locations. I am practically a hermit in the winter months and I really look forward to getting home and snuggling up on the sofa with my neck support and warm blanket.
I opt to always wear a scarf, inside and outside. When I am indoors, I drape a scarf around my neck and shoulders to avoid drafts and chills. When I go outside, I wrap the scarf around my face and neck and cover my head and ears with a fluffy warm hat. Some people take it a step further and buy a Balaclava or ski mask to protect their face from the cold. I also always ensure that I wear gloves. Sounds silly, but when my hands are cold it makes me tense up and this puts pressure on my shoulders and jaw. The gloves also restrict the nerves that run from the neck to the fingertips from firing off.
When I get home, usually the first thing I do is run a hot bath or have a hot drink and wrap a microwave heat pack around my face and ears. When I have a hot bath, I try to add Epsom bath salts and some aromatherapy oils to help clear my airways and help relieve the pressure and compression on my sinuses caused by the cold weather. This feels so nice when I am in a lot pain and it is one of the things I look forward to most.
After my hot bath or shower, I also use SBC Camphor & Menthol Massage Gel. My friend Theresa bought this for me last year and I only started using it the past couple of months. What an amazing product. After I am fully dry I gently rub it into the top of my shoulders, neck, my temples and my jaw joints and wait for it to work its magic. I wrap up in my fluffy dressing gown and my PJs, take my pain relief and curl up on the sofa.
I drink plenty of water. My house is like a remake of Signs with water bottles everywhere. I drink around 2-3 litres of water every day and also drink more black tea in the winter. Green tea is also great to help reduce the amount of mucus in your airways.
Finally, I ensure that I maintain a good balanced diet and take multivitamins, omega fish oils, green tea extract, coconut oil, aloe vera, acai berry and raspberry ketones.
I think with most things, we cannot expect to fully escape jaw and face pain at this time of year, but we can treat ourselves with a little more compassion and care. Treat yourself to some TLC, pamper yourself and relax as much as you can.
Hope you find this helpful.