TMD/TMJ disorders have many causes and can affect all of the areas from the shoulders to the top of your head. Many of the symptoms are similar to other pain maladies. Treatment is in most cases customized to relieve the specific symptoms each patient is experiencing. Common symptoms include, tight or locking jaw, pain at multiple sites, popping and clicking noises, limited range of jaw motion, and grinding or clenching of the teeth. These symptoms can occur over an extended period of time (chronic) or can be reoccurring and affect a person over shorter periods of time (acute). Pain may or may not be associated with any of these symptoms. Over time, these symptoms can become severe enough to affect your quality of life.
Treatments are as varied as the symptoms or areas of pain. An in-depth examination and discussion of symptoms for each patient is an absolute necessity. The discovery process of when, where, and how the patient’s symptom are affecting them, is also an educational event for the patient. Once the triggers of the symptoms can be determined, treatment can be directed at specific problem areas. Some of the more common treatments include, night guard appliances, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) and heat therapy, range of motion exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, and in depth analysis of how the teeth are fitting together. More recent treatments include Botox injections to help reduce muscle activity in the areas were pain is associated with chronic muscle pain.
Treatment goals are aimed at eliminating or reducing pain symptoms and improving any limitations to functional range of motion. Because of the wide range of factors contributing to these symptoms, each patient’s treatment regimen has to be specifically designed for their specific situation.
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