TMJ disorder, also known as temporomandibular joint syndrome, can present a number of annoying symptoms, but for many patients who suffer from this condition, pain is the worst of them.
Some patients experience TMJ pain that is centered in the affected jaw joint, whereas others experience earaches, headaches and migraines. The condition can also cause referred pain in the cheeks, neck and shoulders.
To relieve TMJ pain, oral surgeons may recommend one of several strategies. Often, the most effective method of treating TMJ disorder and relieving pain involves more than one type of treatment.
Lifestyle Changes & Home Remedies
For some TMJ disorder patients, a few simple tricks can help relieve pain. If you suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder, your oral surgeon may recommend the following:
- Avoid foods that require you to open your mouth wide
- Refrain from eating anything chewy, hard or crunchy
- Stick to soft foods when TMJ pain is severe
- Massage or gently stretch the jaw and neck muscles
- Reduce stressful activities and take time to relax
- Try cutting out alcohol, caffeine and tobacco
Conservative Therapies to Relieve TMJ Pain
Home remedies can help with TMJ disorder, but many patients need additional oral surgeon treatment for pain relief. Conservative therapies that can relieve TMJ pain include:
- Ice packs and moist heat applied to the side of the face
- Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Prescription muscle relaxants to help loosen the jaw muscles
- Stabilization splints or night guards to prevent tooth grinding and clenching
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), using a low-level current
- Trigger-point injections of pain medicine and/or anesthetic
Surgical Treatment Options for TMJ Disorder
Sometimes, the pain of TMJ disorder doesn’t respond to lifestyle changes and conservative therapies. When all other treatment options have been exhausted, oral surgeons may recommend one of three surgical procedures:
- Arthrocentesis is a minimally invasive treatment which involves injecting a sterile solution into the affected joint to flush the space. After arthrocentesis, other medication, such as corticosteroids or lubricants, may be injected.
- Arthroscopy is a more complex procedure in which a tiny fiber optic camera is inserted through a small incision near the ear. The images are projected to a video monitor, allowing the oral surgeon to remove excess tissue and realign or suture the cushioning discs.
- Arthroplasty is the most complex treatment, an open-joint surgery completed through an incision along the ear. As this procedure is usually done at a hospital under general anesthesia, arthroplasty is typically reserved for patients with structural problems in the joint.
Is TMJ pain affecting your quality of life? The professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, serving the greater Salt Lake City area, can evaluate your symptoms and recommend an effective treatment approach for pain relief.
As specialists in jaw-related facial conditions, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield have successfully treated patients with temporomandibular joint syndrome for over a decade. Don’t keep living with TMJ pain — contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office and schedule a TMJ disorder consultation today.