TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disease is a condition in which there is pain and dysfunction in the joints and muscles that control jaw movement. Discomfort is mostly temporary. However, some people may develop long-term symptoms. Although TMJ can be caused by clenching the jaw, arthritis, or trauma, its origin is unknown because symptoms often start without reason. TMJ affects millions of Americans, mostly women. If you suffer from persistent pain in or near the jaw area and think you may have TMJ, take the first step towards TMJ treatment by contacting Dr. John O’Grady in Danville, CA.
Signs and Symptoms
The most predominant symptom is radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck when opening and closing the mouth. However, facial pain can be caused by other problems such as sinus or ear infections. Your doctor can best identify if you have TMJ by first ruling out these other ailments through a thorough examination and discussion of your symptoms. Some other indicators may be:
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Painful clicking, popping, or grating while chewing
- A change in the alignment of the upper and lower teeth
- Aching pain around the ears
How is TMJ diagnosed?
There is no known test to diagnose TMJ because the exact causes and symptoms are unclear. Moreover, there is no certified specialty for treating TMJ disorder. Therefore, it is highly recommended to seek a provider, like Dr. O’Grady of Danville, CA, who understands musculoskeletal problems and can tailor a TMJ treatment plan to fit your needs.
How is TMJ treated?
The first option should be conservative and non-invasive treatment, and more aggressive therapy in cases such as disjointed discs and nerve tissue pain may require the care of other specialists. Procedures such as surgery, injections, artificial implants, or repositioning the bite should only be a last resort because there are not enough studies to confirm the effectiveness of these procedures. Since TMJ pain is often fleeting and cyclical, the following self-care and holistic practices are suggested as a safer and less costly approach:
- Eat soft foods
- Apply ice packs
- Avoid wide jaw movements
- Practice gentle jaw stretching (a physical therapist or provider can recommend exercises)
- Short-term use of pain medication such as anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants
- Get fitted for a bite guard
- Massage by a physical therapist
If these practices do not relieve your symptoms and pain become long-term, contact Dr. O’Grady in Danville, CA, for an in-depth evaluation and learn about your TMJ treatment options at (925) 820-5585.