Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder occurs when there is any injury or damage to the temporomandibular joint. This is the joint which connects the jaw to the skull of a person. This condition usually results in a localized pain disorder. The muscles that control the movement of the jaws are also affected. Some people suffering from this condition tend to grind or clench their teeth. However, it is not always easy to determine the exact cause of temporomandibular joint disorder as this condition may occur due to a combination of a number of different factors.
The factors that can cause this condition to occur are arthritis, genetics and jaw injury. The TMJ joint generally involves a hinge action with sliding motions. Smooth movement of the joint is ensured by a small disk that absorbs shock while the other bones that adjoin this joint are covered with cartilage. Painful episodes of TMJ disorder can occur if the alignment of the small disk changes or if it gets eroded, if the cartilage of the joint is damaged due to arthritis or due to some external injury.
The treatment for TMJ disorder involves use of medications like pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants. Non-drug therapies like oral splints or mouth guards, counseling and physical therapy are also effective in treating TMJ disorder. Other surgical interventions like arthrocentesis, injections, modified condylotomy, open-joint surgery and TMJ arthroscopy.
A doctor may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen when other medications do not offer relief. Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline are often used to get relief from temporomandibular joint syndrome. Muscle relaxants can also be used for a few days or a couple of weeks to get relief from this pain.
Occlusal appliances like oral splints or mouth guards can help people suffering from TMJ pain. This involves inserting a soft or firm device over the teeth to treat pain. Physical therapy involves the use of heat and ice along to reduce pain. Exercises are also recommended to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles. A person suffering from TMJ disorder can also take the help of a counselor so that he/she can understand how the pain can get aggravated and so can take effective measures to avoid such a situation.
There are different surgical procedures that can be used to treat TMJ. It has been seen that botulinum toxin type A injections when injected into the jaw muscles can help a person to get relief from the pain associated with TMJ disorders. Arthroscopic surgery can help to treat various types of TMJ disorders. In this procedure, a small thin tube is inserted into the joint space and then an arthroscope is inserted. Surgery is performed with the help of small surgical instruments. Another procedure, the modified condylotomy, treats TMJ disorder indirectly by operating on the mandible. Open-joint surgery is usually performed when TMJ disorder occurs due to some structural problem in the jaw joint and it is necessary to repair or replace the joint.
It is not always easy to understand what is the reason for a person experiencing TMJ disorder. However, some of the symptoms that a person may experience if he/she is suffering from TMJ syndrome are pain or tenderness on the jaw, pain in and around the ear, unbearable pain in the face and also difficulty or experience of pain during chewing. A person will also generally experience pain in one or both the temporomandibular joints and also may find it difficult to open or close his/her mouth due to locking of the joint. People experiencing some or most of these symptoms are eligible for treatment.
TMJ disorder is generally diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor will conduct a physical test to examine whether a person is suffering from such a condition or not. A doctor will listen to and feel the jaw when a patient opens or closes his/her mouth, press on the areas around the jaw to pinpoint the exact location of the pain and will also observe the range of motion in the jaw of the patient. A person who has been checked by a doctor and has not been diagnosed as to be suffering from TMJ disorder is not suitable for treatment.
Some of the common side-effects of NSAIDs are stomach pain and heartburn, stomach ulcers, dizziness, headache, allergic reactions and it may also result in a tendency to bleed more. A person suffering from liver or kidney problems should consult a doctor before taking NSAIDs as these medicines can aggravate the problems. Some of the side-effects of ibuprofen include diarrhea, constipation, rash, hypertension, retention of fluids and salt in the body, nausea and dyspepsia. People taking corticosteroid injections can cause pain and swelling. Arthroscopic surgery can increase the risk of infection and blood clots.
There are a few post-treatment guidelines that you can follow to reduce the symptoms of TMJ disorders. You should avoid overusing the jaw muscles. You should also consume soft food and should always cut the food into small pieces before consuming. Chewy food should be avoided so as not to aggravate the situation. Stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles with the help of exercises that you can learn from your dentist or physical therapist. One of the easiest but most effective ways to get rid of the pain associated with temporomandibular joint syndrome is to apply moist heat or ice to the side of the face.
Muscle relaxants take a few days to a few weeks to provide relief from temporomandibular joint syndrome. Pain killers and anti-inflammatories normally produce relief within a very short period of time. Physical therapies and counseling take some time to provide favorable results. A person undergoing arthrocentesis will require avoiding stressful activities for at least a period of 24 hours. Other surgical procedures will also require a person to take a few weeks time to recover from its effects.
10 tablets of Ibuprofen are available within a price range of Rs 10-Rs 15. 10 mg of amitriptyline oral tablet costs something around Rs 600. Oral splints are available in India within a price range of Rs 500 – Rs 3500. Jaw surgery in India can cost anything in between Rs 20000 – Rs 300000.
Surgical interventions to treat temporomandibular joint treatment normally produce long-lasting results. They can successfully help a person to get over the pain associated with this condition. Medications may help to reduce the pain but they do not address the actual cause of the problem. Similarly, physical therapy also reduces the symptoms but does not eradicate the root of the problem. A person may again suffer from the condition if he/she suffers from some injury or if he/she suffers from arthritis.
Acupuncute can be used to treat any kind of chronic pain including the pain associated with temporomandibular joint syndrome. This method requires the insertion of a number of hair-thin needles in specific locations of the body. Biofeedback involves the use of electronic devices can monitor the tightness of specific muscles and can help a person to effectively practice such techniques that can cause him to relax. Relaxation can help to ease the pain to a large extent.