Get to Know the Causes and Treatment for TMJ Disorders

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The jawbone is connected to your skull, both sides of your head, and the temporomandibular joint, allowing you to move your muscles when chewing, yawning, and talking. Problems in this joint, including TMJ in Dundalk, cause pain in your jaw joints and the muscles that facilitate movement. If you have temporomandibular disorder, you may experience other symptoms such as aching facial pain, locking of the joint, and difficulty chewing. In most cases, symptoms of TMJ disorders go away without treatment or with self-care measures. However, you should seek medical attention if the pain is intense and there is a limitation of jaw movement.

What causes TMJ disorder?

There is no clear cause for temporomandibular joint disorder in most patients. This is among the complex joints in your body as it combines both hinge action and sliding motions. The bones that make up the joint are covered with cartilage and separated by a disk that absorbs shock and facilitates smooth movement. You can have pain in this joint if:

·         The cartilage covering the joint wears out due to medical conditions such as arthritis.

·         There is joint damage after a blow or any forceful impact.

·         There is a misalignment of the disc.

·         You had structural jaw problems at birth.

Other factors associated with the development of TMJ disorders include:

·         Wearing orthodontic braces

·         Prolonged stress

·         Lack of sleep

·         Poor diet

Diagnosis of TMJ disorder

Diagnosis for temporomandibular joint disorder can be challenging as there are no standard tests for these conditions. To determine the severity of your situation, your specialist will:

·         Feel your jaw as you open and close your mouth while listening to grating sensations or clicking sounds, if any.

·         Check your jaw’s range of motion.

·         Determine painful areas by pressing around your jaw and surrounding areas.

Other imaging tests may be used if your doctor suspects a problem. They include:

·         CT scan to provide images of the bones that make up the joint.

·         Dental x-rays to assess your teeth and jaw.

·         Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check for problems with the disc or surrounding tissues.

What is the treatment for TMJ?

Treatment ranges from medication to therapy, surgery, depending on how your body responds to conservative treatment and the severity of your condition.  It is essential to discuss with your doctor what your options are if you fail to respond to conventional treatments.  Examples of treatments that your specialist may recommend include:

Medications

·         Tricyclic anti-depressants. They include drugs such as amitriptyline which is used for depression but can be used in low doses to relieve pain, improve sleep, and control bruxism.

·         Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can minimize pain in your jaw joints.

·         Muscle relaxants can help reduce muscle spasms which could be a source of pain.

Therapy

·         Occlusal appliances such as mouth guards inserted over the teeth can help minimize the pain resulting from TMJ.

·         Physical therapy includes stretching and strengthening your jaw muscles and other practices such as hot and cold compresses.

·         Corticosteroid injections such as botulinum toxin type A can be injected into the chewing muscles to reduce pain.

For further questions about TMJ disorders, consult with your doctor at CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center.

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