If you are like most people, you might not know that the joints in your jaw are called temporomandibular joints. But when something goes wrong with them, the pain associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can be debilitating. If you or a loved one suffers from jaw and facial pain, TMD may be the reason. Read on to learn more about this disorder and possible treatments.
What Is TMD?
Your jaw is attached to your skull on both sides by joints that act like hinges that allow you to open and close your mouth, chew your food, speak, and more. Those hinges are known as the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). When something happens to those joints and the associated muscles to cause pain or interference with normal function, it is called a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). In the past, TMJ and TMD were both used by some to name the disorder, but they are separate entities.
The cause of the disorder may be difficult to identify because it can result from a combination of genetics, an injury to the jaw, arthritis, clenching or grinding the teeth, or dislocation of the TMJ. Stress can both cause and amplify the symptoms of TMD.
Symptoms of TMD
Many of the symptoms of TMD are found in other conditions, making diagnosis complicated. Signs of TMD can include jaw pain, jaw clicking, jaw popping, ear pain, or difficulty chewing. For some, the jaw may become locked open or shut. You could also have toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, or ringing in the ears. It most often occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40, though people of any age can be affected, even children. It is also more prevalent in women than men.
Treatment for TMD
Depending on the severity and cause of the TMD, treatment varies. For the short-term, pain relievers or muscle relaxants may be used to alleviate the pain. Physical therapy, such as ultrasound, moist heat and ice, relaxation exercises, or exercises that improve the function of the jaw muscles may be of benefit. Braces, especially when misalignment is the cause of TMD, or oral appliances, are also treatment options.
If you have jaw pain don’t suffer in silence — call us for an appointment today. At the Southwest Texas TMJ & Sleep Therapy Center, we can make the proper diagnosis and start you on a treatment that gives you the relief you need.