Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TMJ Syndrome: Managing the Pain

The temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw or mandible to your skull and is located right in front of the ear. The different elements that make up the TMJ allow the individual to chew or masticate, yawn, talk, and other functions of the facial muscle. The bones, facial muscles, blood vessels, and nerve endings are the components of the temporomandibular joint. There comes a time when problems arise that would cause the temporomandibular joint to cause you discomfort and severe pain. Problems such as headache, neck and facial pain, ear pain, locked jaw, bite problems etc. Temporomandibular joint syndromes (TMJ) otherwise known as temporomandibular joint disorder have several causes. It can be a trauma to the joints and or the facial muscles. A punch to the jaw can cause misalignment, dislocation and damage to the cartilage disc of the jaw. Even dental appointments that involve extended periods of stretching open the mouth can cause pain in the TMJ region. Moreover, chronic diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis also affects the joints in the temporomandibular region.

Early diagnosis of the cause of the TMJ syndrome is essential in developing the most effective pain management strategies. During assessment, you will be able to observe the different signs and symptoms of this disorder. Management of TMJ treatment would depend on the proper conduct of initial assessment. Signs and symptoms you might recognize are pain in the facial and jaw muscles, pain when opening the mouth to chew, talk, or yawn; joint pain that begins from the ear and radiates to somewhere else in the skull and headaches or migraines. Other signs and symptoms to be aware of is tinnitus or ringing in the ears, popping sound when there is jaw movement, swelling of the face, locked jaw, difficulty swallowing, headache, dizziness and nausea. See your doctor immediately when you experience any of these symptoms. Early diagnosis can lead to prompt delivery of the TMJ treatment and better prognosis for the patient. Talk with doctor on preventive measures that will aid in lessening the recurrence of this condition.

If it is proven to be caused by chronic illnesses, necessary adjustments to your treatment regime would be appropriate. There might even be a need to assess for bone density and bone loss and take necessary supplements as part of your treatment. If the probable cause is due to badmouth habits like occasional chewing of gums, teeth grinding and teeth clenching, the doctor might be able to help you by lecturing you on the effects of teeth grinding and having you use a mouth guard when you sleep. Pain management as part of TMJ treatment would also include the use of sedatives whenever necessary, facial massage, heat compress, and appropriate facial exercise. If you are considering availing of complementary forms of treatment, it is best to go through with it your doctor. There are several therapeutic regimens that have been substantial researches and clinical trials proving their effectiveness for managing pain. Everyone has their own preference and the decision to avail of complementary and alternative forms is personal.

To conclude, if you experience facial pain somewhere in the temporomandibular area and is affecting your speech and diet, it is best to contact your healthcare provider and receive immediate help. Early recognition of signs and symptoms helps in early diagnosis and proper layout of TMJ treatment; thus, resulting to better prognosis. You can work with your doctor in laying out the regimen for managing your pain. Therapy could be contemporary, complementary, or holistic depending on your choice, but best if done with your doctor's guidance.

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