I'm sorry to hear you're in so much pain and can't afford to go to the doctor. Do you live anywhere near the Canadian border? (I'm assuming you live in the US - If you don't live in the US do you live in a country that sells Codeine over the counter?)
In Canada we can purchase Tylenol with a small amount of codeine over the counter from the pharmacist and many Americans come across the border to purchase it. It's very inexpensive, $7 to $10 a bottle of 100 to 200. I have found that taking this with Gravol or Drammamine will relieve tension headaches and migraines and let me sleep. It's what a pharmacist recommended to me before I was able to see a doctor. I'm not a medical professional, so if you were to follow this route, check with a pharmacist, but it might be a short term solution to give you some relief. Another disclaimer, be careful if you try this, Tylenol with Codeine can cause rebound headaches, so don't take a lot repeatedly.
I hope that you are able to find a solution that works for you soon.
I've suffered from TMJ for twenty-something years. I think it started when I had my four impacted wisdom teeth taken out. My oral surgeon's technique was to make a small incision, then crack the tooth into small pieces to be plucked out. I think that he must have done some damage to my right side temporal mandibular joint. When I open my mouth all the way it clicks on that side. Ever since, whenever I had dental work done, my TMJ would act up.
Over the past ten years, I would tense up my jaw without actually clenching my teeth or grinding them at night. Thus, the standard methods of treating TMJ wouldn't work for me. I could also aggrevate it by sucking in on my cheeks too much when I was under stress. Eventually, this became one of my migraine triggers.
I actually was going through physical therapy on my TMJ, which was a combination of stretching exercises, massage, and heat&electrical stimulation. It felt pretty good, and I'm sure it would have helped a lot, had I not kept have dental work done. For about two years, I've been going through major dental work. I kept constant TMJ pain, which was contributing to 2/3 migraine attacks a week. I was taking muscle relaxers, but the inflamation never had a chance to go away between dental treatments. Unfortunately for me, the only anti-migraine medications that work for me now are narcotic in nature, and some new doctor saw me for a migraine after my regular doctor left for the day, and indicated that I was taking more medication, more frequently than a "average" migraine sufferer should take. I was cut off cold from all my migraine meds. I was supposed to be referrred to a "pain clinic", which I found out was actually a "DETOX CENTER" for people with heavy narcotic or barbituate addictions, like heroin and crack. Not what I needed. After over two months of trying to get an appointment, I guess the clinic manager decided that I didn't need their services. I basically got hung out to dry. I've seen a pain specialist at the University of VA Medical Center. She did one round of occipital nerve injections, and scheduled me for a second round, but changed her mind about giving them to me on the second visit. I got referred to the migraine specialist in the Neurology Department at UVA, but it's not until MARCH!!!
I'm still having dental work done, had three back molars pulled out this month. I should only have a couple more visits with my wonderful new dentist, then hopefully the TMJ will be gone. I was getting some rebound headaches, but I've figured out how to control them. But, Heaven Forbid, the weather changes while my TMJ is hurting bad, then I'm in a world of trouble.
Anyway, that's my TMJ story. Looking forward to a ending soon!!!
You don't actually have to clench or grind your teeth to get TMJ, which is inflamation in the temporal mandibular joint. This joint is the connection of the jaw bone to the skull. I found that during the day I would suck in on my cheeks, a stress mechanism, which would irritate the TMJ. Then, my dentist used a clamp to hold open my jaw exacerbated the problem, especially since I was going every few weeks. A strong muscle relaxer can be very helpful. I've been through Flexeril, Skelaxin, and Robaxin, but have just been changed to a new one called SOMA(carisoprodol), which is wonderful. I'm using it for pulled back muscles, since my TMJ is gone.
The problem about seeing a dentist without any insurance is a tough one. You can always check around to see if anyone has a payment plan. When I lost my insurance after my COBRA ran out, I had to go to the local free clinic. They had certain days a week when you could get dental treatment. They bussed in dental students and dentist from a dental school a couple of hours away. The students just did simple things like fillings, which a dentist overseeing their work. A certified dentist would do more complicated work, and the could prescribe the muscle relaxer for you. Mouth guards are a waste of time and money, even the expensive ones made by a dentist.
You might be able to get your PCP to refer you for physical therapy on your jaw. I did it for a while, but since I kept going to the dentist, I really didn't make any progres that lasted for very long. For the time being, stick to anti-inflamatory medication and muscle relaxants. Also, rest your jaw as often as you can by letting you jaw hang down, just so your teeth aren't together, and rest your tongue on the top of your mouth. This is the most natural position for your mouth. Hope it helps.
Good luck and let us know how your are doing.