If you have trouble or pain when chewing your food, or have facial pain, shoulder pain, or neck pain, you might be suffering from a disorder that affects the joints in your jaw. These joints connect your jaw to your skull, and you use them with every word you speak, every drink you swallow, and every bite you chew. Read on to learn more.
The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
The joint that does all this work is called the TMJ. It consists of a small fibrous disc that rests between a ball and socket. Anything that interferes with the normal function of the joints can result in temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Sometimes, patients will endure the pain for much longer than they should, but others may find they have developed TMD quite suddenly. Ignoring the symptoms and allowing the problem to continue can lead to deterioration in the joints.
Other Symptoms of TMD
Some cases of TMD are mild, while others can be debilitating. Here is a list of some of the symptoms that are often associated with TMD.
- Swelling in the face
- Jaw and jaw joint pain
- Frequent headaches
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Pain when chewing
- Clicking or popping sounds in the joint
- Locking of jaws in either an open or closed position
The Cause of TMD Can Be Elusive
It can be difficult to isolate one cause for TMD because it can result from a combination of factors. Causes may include:
- Injury to the jaw
- Grinding and/or clenching teeth
- Normal wear and tear
- Misalignment of the joint
Diagnosis and Treatment
There isn’t a cure for TMD because it is not a specific disease. However, the disorder can be treated to alleviate pain and restore the jaw to normal function. An effective treatment depends upon correct diagnosis since each case is unique to the individual patient. Muscle relaxants and pain relief medications can help in mild cases for a short time. Other treatments to help jaw muscle function, like ultrasound, physical therapy, and relaxation exercises, can also help. Braces or oral appliances are additional treatments that can be effective.
Don’t continue to suffer from the symptoms of TMD. If you are in Uvalde, Texas, or the surrounding area, call us today at Southwest Texas TMJ & Sleep Therapy Center to schedule a consultation.