TMJ pain or pain arising from temporomandibular joint disorder is a result of problems in the muscles and the joint in the jaw responsible for the jaw movement. This pain is usually moderate to severe in intensity and may affect the person’s ability to chew. TMJ pain can also lead to possible tension type headaches because of the spams in the muscles along the jaw and side of the head.
TMJ pain can be considered not serious as no vital organ in the body is affected in a great way with the presence of TMJ disorder. However, TMJ can just be a nuisance and can actually affect the activities of daily living of the ones affected. A bite on a food can actually cause a shooting pain so even the nutrition of the person can be affected in a way. While mild TMJ pain can be managed at home using home remedies, it is still essential to seek medical consult to determine any problem on the jaw joint.
Managing jaw joint pain may involve various modalities depending on the severity of the pain. Treatment options for TMJ pain include both non-surgical and surgical managements.
Non-Surgical Treatments for TMJ Pain
Non-surgical treatments are usually employed before any surgery because the most conservative approach that would help relieve pain is more desired than undergoing surgery. Managements for TMJ pain in this category include:
- Use of bite splint
A bite splint is a mouth guard that fits on the lower and upper teeth. The aim of the device is to allow smooth sliding of the teeth against each other; thereby, reducing tension on the muscles on the jaw. The use of bite splint may also help prevent grinding and clenching of the teeth.
- Use of medications
Anti-inflammatory medications are also commonly used to relieve pain. Muscle relaxants are also given to help the muscles relax especially in cases where the jaw muscles are severely inflamed causing them to restrict the motion of the jaw.
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy is also employed for TMJ pain. Stretching exercise for the jaw muscles, biofeedback as well as use of warm compress is commonly employed for jaw pain.
Surgical Treatments for TMJ Pain
For patients who do not respond to the above managements, a temporomandibular joint disorder is strongly suspected. This is for the fact that muscle disorders along the joint respond to physical therapy and medications. When the pain is still present, despite the non-surgical approaches, surgery may be the last option. Surgical treatments would involve various procedures deepening on the specific joint disorder that the patient has.
Surgery should not be considered the end management for all patients experiencing TMJ pain. Surgery is only for those who have diagnosed jaw problems that would require surgical care. Thorough assessment and diagnostic tests will be employed to determine if you are the right candidate for jaw surgery.
Doctors attending individuals with TMJ pain always recommend using conservative approaches first since surgery can pose risks. If you have been suffering from jaw pain or frequent headaches, then you should consult a physician to determine the right treatment option for your condition.