TMJ Pain Treatment in Alexandria, VA
What Is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ, is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. Your two TMJs—one on each side of your skull—work in conjunction with ligaments, bones, and muscles, allowing you to move your jaw up and down and side to side as you talk or chew. Conditions that impact the temporomandibular joint, your teeth and bite, or the muscles that control the movement of your lower jaw are collectively known as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), not TMJ, as the disorder is commonly known.
TMD is considered a temporary condition as it can sometimes resolve on its own; however, the TMJ pain associated with the disorder frequently requires medical treatment to alleviate discomfort. If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of TMD, schedule a consultation with a healthcare practitioner in Alexandria who specializes in temporomandibular joint dysfunction, diagnosis and treatment. Call (540) 356-3353 or contact Dr. Anne Truong online.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
The etiology of TMJ disorders is not fully understood. Problems in the joint itself or the muscles of the jaw can occur due to the following issues:
- Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can develop in the temporomandibular joint, leading to TMD symptoms
- Teeth grinding: Repeatedly clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth during waking or sleeping hours can increase the risk of developing problems with your temporomandibular joints
- Injury: Neck, jaw, and head injuries, including dislocation of the TMJ joint, can cause TMD
- Stress: If you tend to tighten or clench your facial muscles or jaw when you are under stress, TMD can result
- Genetics: TMJ disorder may run in families
- Medications: Grinding of teeth can be triggered by certain drugs like SSRIs for depression
- Lifestyle factors: Smoking and alcohol use may also contribute to teeth grinding and consequently TMJ problems
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The telltale symptom of TMD is the popping or clicking that can occur when you move your jaw or open and close your mouth. Other TMD symptoms may include:
- Difficulty fully opening your mouth
- Chronic pain, including facial pain, headaches, toothaches or aching neck
- Difficulty chewing
- Neck or shoulder pain when you open your mouth widely, or sometimes even when you simply talk or chew
- Problems with jaw locking
- Discomfort or pain when you bite down
- Hearing loss
- Sleep loss or irregularities
A TMD diagnosis is made by physical examination of the symptoms, listening for the characteristic popping or clicking jaw sounds. Sometimes panoramic X-rays are used to diagnose a TMJ disorder, but physical examination is usually all that is required.
TMD Treatment Options
Your TMD treatment may include both at-home treatment to relieve TMD symptoms and more extensive treatment from your healthcare practitioner. At-home TMJ pain relief treatment may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to address pain and swelling
- Dietary modification, such as eating softer foods in smaller portions, to reduce the work exerted by the jaw during mealtimes
- TMJ exercises to improve jaw mobility
- Stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or massage, to promote relaxation and help cope with TMJ pain
- Heat or ice to reduce pain and inflammation
Should TMJ pain persist despite at-home care, your healthcare practitioner may recommend the following treatments for TMD:
- Corrective treatment of teeth to adjust your bite
- Splint therapy or night guards to minimize clenching and grinding during sleep
- Use of a TENS unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to relax the jaw and facial muscles
- Trigger-point injections
- Physical therapy, such as exercises, ultrasound or laser therapy to improve jaw mobility and strength
- Muscle relaxers
- Pain medication
- Surgery to correct structural problems in the joint
- Implants to replace the temporomandibular joint when surgery has failed
The effects of TMJ surgery are irreversible, and surgery should be a last resort after you have tried every other avenue for treatment. Consult several healthcare providers experienced in treating TMD before consenting to surgical treatment for your TMJ disorder.
When dealing with TMD, it is prudent that you seek the guidance of an experienced healthcare provider to diagnose and treat your condition properly. Request more information today about TMJ/TMD. Call (540) 356-3353 or contact Dr. Anne Truong online.
Truong Rehabilitation Center
Address10340 Spotsylvania Ave
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Tue: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Wed: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Thu: 8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Fri: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm