All There Is to Know About TMJ Treatment
The temporomandibular joint syndrome is a common problem that affects thousands, if not millions of people per year. It is a common problem, but there is confusion surrounding what TMJ is, the disorders related to it, and how you can treat it. TMJ disorders can bring about excruciating pain and even hinder your quality of life. That is why it is vital to have the right kind of information before you visit a jaw injury doctor.
What Is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are things you don’t think about much, but you use them quite often. These are the joints that are responsible for connecting your jawbone to your skull. The TMJ is responsible for the up and down movements, and the side to side movements of the jaws. In short, the TMJ comes into action every time you chew, swallow, and talk. This is what makes the TMJ a complex joint and makes treatment much difficult to administer effectively.
What Are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?
TMJ disorders cover a broad scope of problems that affect the joint. As such, the symptoms and causes are also as many. When the TMJ is either damaged or injured, it leads to these disorders. In turn, this will cause you some acute pain or discomfort. The common causes include:
- Arthritis and other autoimmune diseases
- Dental surgery
- Clenching or grinding your teeth while you are asleep
There might be other causes that could be hormonal, genetic, or even environmental. There are instances where violinists have encountered problems with their TMJ. They have to hold the violin under their jaw for hours, which causes injuries to occur.
At times the exact cause of pain on the TMJ might be challenging to diagnose, due to a confluence of reasons. In any case, some symptoms will accompany these disorders. However, it is essential to note that TMJ symptoms may be similar to other diseases. Often, this has led to misdiagnoses.
In any case, here are the common symptoms:
- Ear pain (sometimes around the ear)
- Eye pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Jaw pain – this might occur on one or both sides of the jaw
- Pain while chewing
- Mouth pain
- A clicking sound when you close or open your mouth
- You might hear ringing in your ears
- Headaches – these may be clusters or migraines
Now that you are a bit more knowledgeable on matters TMJ let’s look at how we can treat it.
Treatments and Therapies
The TMJ treatments and therapies vary. As you visit a jaw injury doctor, the diagnosis will determine the method of treatment. The most challenging part is getting the right diagnosis. At times the disorders may overlap, and these might be:
- Joint problems
- Muscular issues that tend to make jaw movement difficult
- Pain that affects the jaw joint.
Your diagnosis will determine whether you will use:
Medications – These will include pain relievers and even some anti-inflammatory drugs. Your doctor can prescribe stronger drugs to help ease the pain. At times, muscle relaxants will be used in case you have muscle spasms.
Non-drug therapies can also be employed like oral splints or occlusal appliances. Physical therapy can come in handy, especially when the problems are muscular. Jaw exercises are also another alternative. It is important to note that different types of jaw exercises may be used to alleviate pain, and they can help you to:
- Stretch the jaw
- Reduce jaw clicking
- Strengthen the jaw muscles
- Relax the jaws
- Promote jaw healing.
There are those times when you will experience temporary symptoms and aren’t that serious. In such cases, home remedies can work. In a few days, your jaw will be back to normal.
Finally, when you have tried all other options, and still there isn’t any relief, your dentist may give you these options:
- Corticosteroid injections directly into the jaw muscles.
- Arthrocentesis is a procedure that uses small needles to make insertions in the joint to remove inflammatory byproducts and debris by flooding it with fluid.
- Open joint surgery can be done if the other, more conservative methods do not work, and there seems to be a more structural problem than a muscular one.
It is essential to resort to surgery as the last option. This means that you have to weigh your options carefully and see if TMJ surgery benefits outweigh the risks involved.