TMJ

TMJ is a condition in which pain in the jaw area and surrounding tissues limits the function of the jaw itself. TMJ can affect a patient’s ability to sleep, work, swallow chew and even breathe. TMJ patients may experience other symptoms and medical conditions such as chemical sensitivity, chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, hypermobile joints, irritable bowel syndrome, mitral valve prolapsed, sleep disorders and vulvodynia. Medical conditions such as ehlers-danlos syndrome, dystonia, lyme disease and scleroderma may also plague patients.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, it is estimated that 10 million Americans are affected with TMJ. It has also been found that the disorder is more common among women than men.

Patients with Tempromandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) may experience such symptoms including: pain, limitation of mouth opening, ear symptoms such as ringing, vertigo, ear aches, loss of hearing, headaches, muscle tenderness, neck and back aches, shoulder tenderness, jaw locking, and click or pops when opening the mouth.

Physicians believe that most TMJ symptoms can be related to traumatic situations that include: birth trauma-natural delivery, forceps delivery, childhood Mishaps (such as falling down the stairs or being hit with a soccer ball), motor vehicle accidents, flexion extension injuries, blunt trauma such as a physical fight and lastly, hyperextension of the jaw.

One of the most common questions dentists and physicians hear often, is what precipitates TMJ? There are several reasons that TMJ afflicts patients: developmental abnormalities, diseases that include Rheumatoid Arthritis, tumors, Psoriatic Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, dysfunctions of the TMJ such as, Internal Derangements, Locking, Joint Crepitus and finally, Stress/Anxiety.

TMJ pain can be caused by a multitude of factors: muscle spasm and trigger points, joint inflammation, hormonal influence, vascular migraine type pain, neurological such as Trigeminal Neuralgia or A-Typical facial pain.

Treatment Options

Splint Therapy

  • Decompresses the TMJ
  • Relaxes the muscles to resting length
  • Decreases bruxism and clenching
  • Attains a better maxillo-mandibular relationship
  • Allows the body to decrease inflammation in the TMJ; decreasing painful chemical irritants

Physical Therapy

  • Ultrasound and EGS, rid the chemical irritants and stimulate blood flow
  • Massage and MFR same effect but more generalized, whole body effect
  • Localized Effect by using heat, ice or moist heat
  • Chiropractor

Injections

  • Marcaine or Polocaine for trigger point or tendonitis
  • Hot Alcohol for trigeminal neuralgia
  • Sarapin with Anesthetic
  • Steroids
  • Sterile Saline

Pharmacological Therapy

  • Muscle relaxants (Robaxin, Skelaxin)
  • Sedatives (Ambien)
  • Analgesics (Scheduled substances)
  • Anti-inflammatory (Motrin, Excedrin)
  • Anti-depressants or anxiety medications (Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac)

Surgery (only utilized in the most extreme cases.)

  • Plication
  • Disc removal
  • RF cautery
  • Implants of disc material (Metal)
  • Rib grafts

Acupuncture and Alternatives

  • Follows Eastern Medicine
  • Muscle testing
  • Magnets now showing promise for emotional problems, i.e. bi-polar personality
  • Herbs, tea, oils and liniments
  • Supplements and natural inflammatory that include, Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine