It was unfortunate, but it happens. I fell, tried to grab on to a rail as I went down, missed, hit my jaw on the rail instead. Whatcha gonna do 🤷🏻♂️
Go to the hospital is the correct answer because despite the minimal pain I fractured my right mandibular condyle as confirmed by CT scan. I wish I had the scan to show you but this is where the fracture was at.
All things considering I was very fortunate because the fracture was not full thickness, so not enough for the maxillofacial specialist at the hospital to intervene and even the plastic surgeon I visited shortly after said I wasn't a surgical case, but I could become one if I wasn't careful.
So the instructions were simple: don't move my jaw and liquids only.
The average fracture heals in 6 weeks and that was the benchmark for me to start eating solids and moving my jaw fully again. That was my plastic surgeon's benchmark anyways...
Being a Naturopathic doctor and a Chiropractor, though, I had different plans and a holistic approach to get there.
(Disclaimer: This does not serve as medical advice and you should always listen to your doctor)
After waking up my jaw had settled in its natural resting position which was just open enough to squeeze some supplements in and to talk without needing to move my jaw. Any jaw movement at this point was painful and dangerous to expanding the delicate fracture line. I started with the following:
Multivitamin: Help me get the general nutrients I need now that I can't eat as much food
Fish Oil: The best anti-inflammatory out there to help clear some inflammation from my TMJ
Probiotic: Tackle inflammation in your gut to decrease the amount available to go to my jaw
Magnesium: Help relax the muscles that are stiffening up my jaw
Vitamin D: Shuttles the calcium in my blood to where it's needed, my jaw bone
Bone Builder: A balance of calcium and phosphorus which are the two main elements of bone composition but also microcrystalline hydroxyapatite which is the unsung hero when it comes to bone building and strength
Bone Support: manganese, strontium, silica, and boron which are cofactors for osteoclasts and osteoblasts, the cells that facilitate bone remodeling
Organic grass-fed bone broth: protein, fat, and all the minerals needed for bone growth
Vegetable based soups
Water: extra to flush out all the inflammation and bone "debris"
Light therapy that aids mitochondrial production. The more energy your cells have to clean up old bone and lay down new bone the faster you heal!
None of these things were recommended by anyone in the hospital or by the plastic surgeon! This is a major difference between the trainings of my professions and the trainings of conventional medicine practitioners. When you supply the body with the things it needs to heal, it will heal better and faster! I continued this protocol throughout the 6 weeks.
By the end of the first week I had made some major progress. Everything I had been doing was working wonders. My jaw had relaxed enough that I could talk normally and I only had pain if I talked too fast or yawned. I was able to lay on my right side when I slept and was back to work!
By the end of the second week I had cooked up some pretty incredible soups! However, after 2 weeks of eating soup through a straw, I was over them and my jaw was feeling really good. Go back and review the disclaimer again if you need to because this is where I deviate from the expert advice.
There is very good research out there that shows in order to grow any tissue, it needs to be stressed. Since my fracture wasn't full thickness and my jaw wasn't wired shut, I could gently stress the bone. Therefore, I overcooked some pasta to allow myself to actually chew something. As long as the chewing was uncomfortable and not painful I was helping myself, not hurting the bone remodeling.
By the end of the third week I had progressed to some shredded chicken! This was a huge victory because it opened up so many more things that I could eat. By this point people had forgotten that I even fractured my jaw because my life was back to normal!
There was something about chewing gum that really made me feel like hot stuff 😂
Not being able to ski was probably my first thought after getting the diagnosis in the hospital that night. I wasn't so worried about falling and re-fracturing my jaw because a general rule of thumb in life and in skiing is to avoid falling on your face. I was more worried about clenching my jaw as a way to unconsciously protect it which might cause some damage to the healing fracture line. By this point I had no pain to touch or with any jaw movement and was eating whatever I wanted so I hit the slopes!
By the end of the 6 weeks, my plastic surgeon called to check in. He recommended I start incorporating some solid foods like mashed potatoes and to start doing some jaw mobilization exercises to increase my range of motion 🤦🏻♂️
Well there you have it, I was able to turn an unfortunate incident into a wonderful experiment and the results were incredible. It just goes to show that there are always options out there and the conventional route is not always all it's cracked up to be...