The 33-year-old music teacher described the pain as ‘unbearable’ and said: “I couldn’t sleep or eat properly. I just couldn’t function. It was like seeing the world through a grey fog. I was a miserable person.”
Miss Reed began to suffer from blinding headaches and jaw pain when she was a child. She was diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder, which is pain or restricted movement in the jaw joint.
She had corrective surgery as a University student in her 20s, but the procedure was unsuccessful and left her in even more pain than before.
Eating became incredibly painful and she soon stopped going out with other people due to embarrassment of having to eat such tiny mouthfuls. Ten years went by where Lauren lived on painkillers and sheer willpower.
Eventually, her dentist referred her to a clinic at King’s College Hospital and London, run by maxillofacial surgeon Shaun Matthews. After examination, Mr Matthews convinced her that the only cure would be a complete jaw joint replacement.
Lauren accepted the procedure on the grounds that the pain was too much to live with and she didn’t care if it changed the way she looked.
The replacement itself was made from titanium and had to be shipped from Colorado in the USA. Using 3D scans of her head and jaw, the US team made a virtual model of Miss Reed’s bone anatomy to help Mr Matthews prepare for the complex 9 hour operation.
The new joint woks via a hinge process, whereby the patient is able to move their mouth up and down, but not side to side.
Lauren is now pain-free and enjoying her life. She claims that even her pupils have noticed a difference in the way she acts.
Chronic pain can be isolating and debilitating. If you think you are suffering from depression as a result of chronic pain, you may benefit from visiting a counsellor. To find out more, visit our Depression page. Alternatively, you can find a counsellor using our advanced search tool.
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