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Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome

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The temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) or temporomandibular joint is the synovial joint that connects the jaw to the skull. Disorders in this joint can occur in any age which can cause substantial pain and inflammation in jaw muscles and joints.

What are the associated symptoms?

  • Tenderness and pain in face and jaw which can extend around the ears, neck and shoulders
  • Difficulty in opening mouth while talking and eating
  • Locking of jaw while opening or closing mouth
  • The affected side of the jaw can swell
  • Clicking, grating or popping sounds in jaw while moving it
  • Headache, dizziness and facial fatigue due to jaw pain

Causes of temporomandibular joint syndrome

It arises due to problems in the muscles and parts of the joint itself due to various factors:

  • Trauma or injury to the temporomandibular joint
  • Intra-articular disc derangement, in which the problem exists in the joint itself
  • Damage and inflammation of joint’s cartilage due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis  and gout
  • Stress and depression
  • Teeth grinding and clenching of teeth presses TMJ

When to seek medical help?

You need medical check-up when you experience the aforementioned symptoms, which could be occasional or severe. If you jaw gets locked, then it needs emergency care.

Diagnosis of temporomandibular joint syndrome

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Your doctor will initiate diagnosis by checking your medical history, evaluating the symptoms and checking everything related to the pain and oral habits.

Your mouth, jaws (especially the temporomandibular joint ), face, neck, and ears will also be analysed.  He will listen to the sounds of the jaws while opening and closing the mouth.

Furthermore, X ray, CT scan and MRI of the jaw and mouth may be suggested.

Treatment for temporomandibular joint syndrome

Your doctor will determine the kind of treatment needed after performing a thorough diagnosis and as per the test reports.

Sometimes, the pain goes away with home remedies sans medication. When the pain is persistent doctors usually recommend anti inflammatory pain medications, anti-depressants and muscle relaxants.

Cortisone medication may also be injected to combat pain

Locked jaw is treated by sedating the patient and manipulating the mandible to regain normal movement.

Under certain circumstances, a small invasive surgery may be carried out by inserting two needles in temporomandibular joint for the purpose of washing out debris with the injected fluid.

Home Remedies for temporomandibular joint syndrome

  • You doctor will counsel you to stop clenching and grinding your teeth and other activities that involve tensing your jaw muscles
  • You need to consume soft foods until you recover. Avoid eating hard and chewy foods
  • Your doctor will show you exercises and massages that would help relaxing and strengthening your jaw and joints.
  • Apply warm compress over the painful area of the jaw
  • Reduce stress with relaxation therapies
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements like yawning big, opening the mouth wide while talking, singing or eating, and chewing gums

Do not neglect if your jaws tend to ache continuously. The earlier you get a treatment, the quicker you get relieved from the pain and discomfort.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015

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