With the Memorial day weekend coming up, there will be picnics galore, and lots of gatherings with traditional sports like three legged races and hot dog eating contests.

Ironically, the champion of hot dog eating contests is not a huge American, but a 160 pound Japanese named Takeru Kobayashi .

Last year, the 165-pound Kobayashi won his sixth straight Yellow Mustard Belt at the Independence Day competition in Coney Island, N.Y., by devouring a then-world record 53 3/4 frankfurters in 12 minutes.

That mark was smashed earlier this month by Joey Chestnut of San Jose, Calif., who gobbled up 59 1/2 hot dogs and buns at the Southwest Regional Hot Dog Eating Championship at the Arizona Mills Mall in suburban Tempe, Ariz., – one of the qualifying events for Coney Island.

Chestnut nearly beat Kobayashi in 2006, downing 52 hot dogs and buns at the contest, which is sponsored by Nathan’s Famous Inc.

But Kobayashi, 29, may not be able to defend his title. Earlier this week, he said on his Web site that his “jaw has abandoned the frontline” during his training.

What’s wrong?

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Better known as TMJ.

Essentially wear and tear arthritis of the jaw, with soreness and spasm of the muscles of the jaw and head.

It’s most common in women, and in people who grind their teeth at night. Some people with clicking in the jaw are more prone to get it. It is a common cause of severe one sided headache, and is one of the things we check when a person has migraine type headaches, with one sided head pain.

Often stress makes a person clench their jaw, and the muscles contract, and then you start getting muscle pain in the temporal part of the head (above the ear) and in the side of the face.

But you can also end up with buy finasteride malaysia changes in the jaw joint itself. In rare cases you need surgery, but usually muscle relaxants, NSAIDS (motrin/ibuprofen, Alleve, Aspirin, or a prescription) will give relief. In people who grind their teeth, your dentist will fit a tooth guard that pads the teeth and stops the jaw clenching at night.

Stress of course makes it worse, so relaxation techniques and stress management helps. I had a case in medical school, which cleared up nicely when I used a jaw guard and took time to relax.

Most cases are easily treated and the person has the problem on and off. But once in awhile, we get an acute case of severe pain .tmj

One holiday weekend, I had a young man come in with severe jaw pain. When I went to look at his teeth, he couldn’t open the jaw. X rays were normal, but examination showed severe tenderness over the jaw joint. I thought it was TMJ, not a wisdom tooth, but since there was no dentist available, I simply gave him a shot of xylocaine (which numbs) mixed with cortisone into the joint. Voila. Instant relief.

It turns out that he had been eating some very tough steaks the day before, and overdid it.

Some Alleve and instructions to go on a mushy diet for two weeks was the treatment.

So the prognosis for Koboyashi to be well enough to win the Coney Island hot dog contest is good, but he may have to limit his training for a couple weeks if he wants to calm down his jaw.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes Medical essays at HeyDoc Xanga Blog

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