TMJ Treatment in Phoenix AZ
- What is Temporomandibular Joint injury?
- What causes TMJ discomfort?
- How is TMJ treated?
Your Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is the joint connecting your jawbone on each side of the head. These joints are constantly active as we use them throughout the day, and also while we sleep. Activities from speaking, chewing, breathing, moving our face and neck all can involve the muscles connected to your TM joint. Even as you sleep, one of the ways the body may process stress is in clenching and unclenching the jaw.
There are different causes of TMJ, and the exact factor is not always easy to determine. Often there is no single cause, and living with increased amounts of stress, and going to bed stressed, have been suggested to trigger greater degree of jaw clenching overnight. (However, it is important to note that most individuals experience unconscious jaw clenching and teeth grinding, but never develop TMJ). In certain individuals, genetics may play a role due to slight variations in depth, anatomy, and fit of the jawbone. Patients with arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions may also be more prone to develop TMJ dysfunction. Prior jaw injury can place also place a person at risk for TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can vary, depending on what is causing your joint to become irritated. Most often, the symptoms present as jaw tightness and pain. Pain and tenderness may be felt on one or both sides, and may refer pain nearby to the ear or neck. Symptoms are often worsened by speaking, chewing, clenching the jaw, or in some cases neck movement can refer TMJ pain as well. In some cases patients may experience a ‘clicking’ or grinding sensation as the hinge joint moves.
In the vast majority of cases, TMJ symptoms can be effectively self-treated with rest, ice, analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications. Sometimes, your Doctor may prescribe a low-dose muscle relaxant which aims to relax strongly clenched or spasming jaw muscles. Oral protective devices such as a mouth guard or splint can be used to reduce and soften the force transmitted through the jaw joint. In rare cases, surgical intervention is used as a last resort if there is an anatomical problem that can be fixed, such as malalignment or bone spurs.
Physical therapy and Chiropractic treatments may also be effective in reducing symptoms and duration of TMJ dysfunction. Alternative therapies such as Acupuncture, structured Relaxation Techniques, and Biofeedback may be able to provide great benefit as well.
There are several injection techniques that may help such as sphenopalatine ganglion blocks. Most recently, stem cell injections are being offered for TMJ relief with excellent outcomes. Call Pain and Spine Clinics today for help with your TMJ in Phoenix!