Temporo Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

By | April 18, 2014

The joint located exactly in front of the ear joining the jaw bone (mandible) to the skull is the temporo mandibular jaw joint. Problems affecting this jaw joint are likewise, known as TMJ disorder. It is not a serious condition, but the symptoms can negatively impact the quality of life of the individual. Many people suffer this disorder at some point in their life. In this article, we will discuss the causes and the treatment for this joint disorder.

Causes of TMJ disorder

  • Clenching or grinding teeth during sleep that will over works the jaw muscles, thus putting pressure on the joints.
  • Wear and tear of the inside of the jaw joint usually due to osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis and this affects in older people than in young people.
  • Inflammation on jaw joint.
  • Injury to jaw joint.

Symptoms of TMJ disorder

  • Stiff jaw muscles.
  • Limited movements.
  • Locking of jaw.
  • Painful clicking of jaw.
  • Pain that follows through face, jaw and neck.

Other common symptoms may include earaches, neck aches, ringing in the ears, upper shoulder pain, etc.

Treatment

  • Resting the jaw: This can be done by
    • Eating soft food
    • Avoiding opening mouth widely (try not yawning too widely)
    • Massaging the muscles
    • Applying warmth to the joint
    • Sometimes depending on the severity of grinding and clenching of teeth, bite guards are suggested by the dentists
  • Medications: Painkiller such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or codiene can help with this condition. If these medicines are not enough, small doses of muscle relaxants are also given.
  • Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy exercises can also help with this problem, such as gentle jaw exercises, ultrasound etc.
  • Injections or surgeries if required:
    • A steroid injection in jaw joint can be helpful if the symptoms are due to inflammation.
    • If the muscles of the jaw are overactive to a severe degree, an injection, botulinum toxin can reduce symptoms.
    • Sometimes for treating a severe condition of TMJ disorder, an arthroscopy is done which involves inserting a fiber optic device in the joint.
    • For very few patients a surgical method is used to correct this disorder. Various operations can be done depending on the individual situation.

Most TMJ problems are rare to get complications and subside over a time. Most of the people have symptoms that last long or can reoccur but can be treated with the treatments described above.

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