After years - yes years - of this problem, I decided to mention it to my dentist a few weeks ago. He thought it was due to grinding my teeth at night and, maybe, my nail-biting habit. He was going to make me up a little splint. Then, luckily, in a moment of honesty, I said "...yeah... If I am trying to talk to someone, or drive, or watch TV, and I am not biting my hands, it's really hard for me to concentrate."
Deeming my problem "chronic" he referred me to a specialist.
I have spent the last month trying to stop biting my hands. It's felt like a break-up. My safe little crutch gone, I have developed a number of other twitches: twiddling my fingers, biting the inside of my lips, scratching at my cuticles and so on. But I have kept trying.
Today I went to said specialist and paid $400 to be told:
a) I am stressed
b) I am a classic personality type for teeth grinding / clenching
c) I clench my jaw at night, drawing moisture out of my mouth and placing enormous pressure on the joints
d) I need a plate - 24 hrs a day for 2 months, then at night. It will cost $900. It will cost $125 per weekly adjustments during the first month.
e) The plate will fix the locking. It probably won't fix the clicking as the ligaments have been stretched and may not bounce back.
He talked to me for about 45 minutes about stress and, having never met me before, described elements of my personality in depth, with disturbing accuracy:
"You are a worrier. You are over-analytical. You are a "what if" person, unable to make decisions because you are constantly pondering the options and you know that, once a decision is made you'll go over and over it. You may be sitting quietly and suddenly a decision you made years ago will start to plague you and your anxiety will shoot through the roof. You procrastinate. You are good at talking about what you think, but not how you feel. When a friend has a problem, they can call you and you happily provide sound advice but you are unable to apply this practical reasoning to your own choices."
And it went on..and was kind of intense...
This year I have had two long-term problems come to a very expensive head because I ignored them for years (vocal injury and now this). I think I had better call the podiatrist about my fusion foot before I step off the curb and it breaks...