TMJ: How It Affects You and How to Find Relief

TMJ: How It Affects You and How to Find Relief

TMJ Disorder, sometimes referred to simply as TMJ, is a cluster of symptoms related to the malfunction of the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your jawbone to the skull using a complex system of muscles, ligaments, and joint bones. The temporomandibular joint’s movement allows you to open and close your mouth and move your jawbone back and forth and to either side. The wide range of motion in the jaw is what allows you to eat, speak, chew, yawn, laugh, and more. However, this complexity and impressive range of motion can come at a cost. Because the TM joint is the most complicated joint system in the human body, it is also the most prone to problems.


What Causes TMJ Disorder?

Misalignment of the jawbone, problems with how the bones work with the surrounding muscles and ligaments, and injuries to the jaw can all lead to TMJ Disorder (TMD). Arthritis can also lead to TMJ Disorder. If you clench or grind your teeth, you are more likely to develop TMJ Disorder because the constant wear and pressure lead to chronic inflammation in and around the joint. That inflammation causes pain that can evidence itself in a variety of ways.


How Does TMJ Disorder Affect You?

Any time your body experiences chronic or recurring pain, you become fatigued. Over time, your jawbone and the surrounding muscles and ligaments suffer from excessive wear, leading to additional problems that may require surgical intervention or further treatment. Chronic pain can also lead to dependence on prescription pain relievers and make it difficult for you to concentrate or enjoy life. Treating the problem is essential to restoring your quality of life.


Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

The variety of symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint disorder is impressive and alarming. For most patients, the symptoms themselves drive them to seek medical aid before serious damage occurs. This is an indication of just how debilitating the symptoms can be. These include:


  • Sore, stiff muscles around the jaws, especially when you wake up
  • Frequent headaches or stiff neck
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Pain in the jaw that is worse when you chew
  • Stress-related jaw pain or headaches
  • Popping, clicking, or locking of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
  • Arthritis pain in other joints combined with jaw pain
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity not caused by dental disease or cavities
  • Teeth that do not meet properly or catch on the sides of your cheeks


Treatment Options

Effectively treatment for TMJ Disorder is not the same for everyone. Several treatment options are available depending on your specific symptoms and jawbone configuration. Dr. Chen and Dr. Black evaluate each patient and create a treatment plan that restores function, alleviates pain, and minimizes the need for invasive intervention whenever possible. They encourage each patient to participate in self-care routines at home to augment any treatment protocols to ensure optimal results. Among possible treatment options are:


  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Steroid injections
  • Botox injections
  • Jaw exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Biofeedback or stress management
  • Nightguard or splint
  • Orthodontics


If none of these treatments bring relief, surgery may be needed. Drs. Chen and Black do not resort to surgery until all other avenues have been exhausted. Their goal is to successfully treat your TMJ Disorder and the accompanying pain in the least invasive manner possible. With so many treatment options available, their patients often find relief they never believed possible.


To learn more about how TMJ Disorder affects your life and how Park East OMS can alleviate your symptoms, call our office at 212-593-2930 or schedule an appointment online.