Treatment Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
TMJ disorders are conditions that specifically affect the TMJ (Temporomandibular joints) causing a wide range of possible symptoms, with varying amounts of discomfort.
The joint that allows for jaw opening and closing, and which enables you to speak and eat is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is found on both sides of your head and connects your lower jaw to your skull.
TMJ disorders are usually quite severe and difficult to treat effectively. This is because the Temporomandibular joint is responsible for movements both up and down as well as from side to side. It is therefore one of the most complex joints in the body.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
Some of the known many possible causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Trauma leading to physical injury
- Grinding or clenching the teeth during sleep
- Autoimmune diseases
- Idiopathic causes as in dental surgery
- Oral infections affecting the TMJ
Genetic, hormonal, or environmental causes also abound. As more women experience TMJ disorders at a higher rate than men, research is currently ongoing to find out about hormonal etiologies for TMJ.
Temporomandibular Disorders Symptoms.
TMJ disorder’s symptoms are dependent largely on the causes and severity of the condition. Pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles is the most common symptom of TMJD. These symptoms, however, may show up on just one side of the face, or both.
Other symptoms typically associated with these disorders include:
- Pain felt in the face or neck
- Clicking or popping sound hear from the TMJ site
- Limited movement of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Malocclusion, which is a shift in the jaw, which then changes the way that the upper and lower teeth align
Treating Temporomandibular Joint Disorders.
Currently, there are no standard tests for the diagnosis of TMJ disorders thus making it difficult to diagnose and treat.
However, if you discover a swelling or tenderness or other symptoms of a TMJ disorder, then you’d need to visit the dental clinic where the dentist gets to examine your jaw. Several different imaging tests can also be ordered and including X-rays and Computed Tomography (CT) scan of the jaw to see the bones and joint tissues or even an MRI of the jaw to detect if there are problems with the structure of the jaw.
A variety of treatment options are available, including both home or self-care and lifestyle changes which in many cases, can treat TMJ disorders, especially mild to moderate conditions. Surgery is usually the preferred treatment in severe cases.
Self-care treatments involve reducing jaw movements wherein you’d be advised to avoid chewing gum, and to eat only soft foods, also avoiding the clenching or tensing the jaw. Gentle mouth and jaw exercises are also recommended, such as slight stretching of the jaw and massage of the affected muscles around the jaw. These have also been found to help and also a combination of both rest and gentle exercise (physiotherapy) may be recommended. A healthcare professional can advise on the most appropriate exercises to follow, as well as other lifestyle changes that could ease TMJ disorder symptoms.
In more extreme cases of TMJ disorder, surgery may be the most efficient treatment for pain and restricted movement such as when the TMJ disorder is caused by damage to the joint itself, and to the muscles surrounding the jaw, or by another different condition. In a case where when the actual joint has something wrong with it, surgery is the only recommended option, and in very severe cases of TMJ disorders, where the movement of the jaw is extremely restricted, and symptoms are long-lasting, the joint may need to be replaced. However, this treatment option is rarely recommended.
A massage therapist in Ottawa, Dr. Christine Rad, can provide massage therapy, examine you and then refer you to see an Oral or Maxillofacial surgeon. Physiotherapy is also very beneficial and you can contact the services of either a massage therapist or a physiotherapist in Ottawa.