TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is a sliding hinge like, connecting jawbone to skull. When there’s a temporomandibular joint disorder, it cause pain in jaw joint as well as in the muscles related to jaw movement. Usually the pain and discomfort of TMJ is temporary and subsidies within some time by self managed care.
TMJ disorders have following signs and symptoms:
- Tenderness and moderate pain in jaw
- Pain can be unilateral or bilateral
- In and around the ear, there would be aching pain
- Difficulty and pain in chewing
- Jaw lock resulting in difficulty in opening and closing of mouth.
- Facial pain of aching character
- Grating sensation or clicking sound when open or close the mouth
Main causes of painful temporomandibular joint disorder are:
- Erosion of disc and subsequent moving out of it’s normal position
- Arthritis, that causes damage to joint cartilage
- Blow or impact on the joint
Diagnosis of TMJ disorder mainly depends upon detailed medical history and complete general physical examination of the patient. Physician will likely to note:
- Clicking sound at the jaw joint during movement
- Range of motion in the jaws
- Identifying the site of pain or discomfort on palpation
- Sometimes, dental X-Rays, CT scan or MRI is needed
- TMJ arthroscopy is also sometimes used for definitive diagnosis of TMJ disorder.
Treatment options include:
- Sometimes no treatment is required at all and self managed care is needed only
- To relieve the pain, some medications like analgesics, anti-inflammatory, tricyclic antidepressants and muscle relaxants are prescribed.
- Non-surgical therapies include: Oral splints or mouth guards, physical therapy and counseling
- Surgical treatment is sometimes required in severe cases. Some surgical therapies include: Arthrocentesis, TMJ arthroscopy, modified condylotomy, open-joint surgery or injection of botulinum toxin A.
Lifestyle and home remedies
- Eat soft food and avoid overusing jaw muscles
- Exercises to strengthen and massaging jaw muscles
- Application of heat or cold to alleviate the pain