TMJ disorders (commonly known as TMD) lead to pain in the jaw joint and muscles responsible for jaw movement. People who suffer from TMD may experience extreme pain even during simple facial movements. For example, chewing, smiling, laughing, or even talking could aggravate the pain.
Let us spend some time to understand what TMJ and TMD is all about to help us with clear distinction. Temporomandibular joint or TMJ are located on both sides of the face. Their location can be pinpointed in front of the ears. The basic function of TMJ is to facilitate movements such as chewing, talking, etc. It connects the lower jawbone to the skull.
Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD refers to dysfunction of TMJ. When the jaw joint’s muscles and ligaments become inflamed or irritated, the patient suffers from pain during movement. TMD may be acute or chronic, and its severity may vary depending on the damage to the TMJ. TMD may result from various issues like bruxism, stress, arthritis, trauma, disc dislocation between the ball and socket joint, etc. It is important to get proper treatment to help with pain alleviation.
Depending on your choice, the treatment of jaw pain arising from TMJ disorders can be done via various approaches. However, your focus should stay on the TMJ symptoms and treatment that permanently helps you with pain relief. There are many options, from using simple self-care practices or conservative treatments to opting for chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, or shockwave therapy.
This form of treatment is done by correcting the spinal posture and jaw realignment, and it does not include any medications. Several types of research have been conducted to check the efficacy of chiropractic treatment in alleviating jaw pain from TMJ. As per a study, there was a great reduction of TMD symptoms of patients that opted for Chiropractic treatment.
The chiropractic treatment for this ailment starts with determining the cause of the TMJ pain. It is important to determine the course of action once it is understood if the pain is radiating from muscles or the spine. The treating chiropractor can recommend regular chiropractic adjustments if needed. Use of hands and special tools is done in such a treatment to apply gentle and controlled force to the patient’s vertebrae. It helps to align the spine properly.
For some patients, the chiropractor may also suggest exercises for faster results. These exercises can be easily performed at home or the office. Spinal remodelling is another approach that is often recommended in chiropractic treatment for jaw pain. This treatment is done using special traction devices that help to align the spines and relieve pain.
Sometimes the jaw pain experienced by TMD patients is extreme, and another approach called shockwave therapy is advised. Usually, this treatment suggests patients who experience lockjaw, abnormal jaw opening or closing patterns, or pain while grinding their teeth. A study concluded that shockwave therapy could help to significantly reduce the pain and improve the functional indexes of TMJ and mouth opening limit for TMD patients.
This type of treatment is done using a pneumatic gun which is kept in contact with the skin surface. The air-compressed bullets are pushed on both sides of the jaw at the rate of 15 times per second. A total of 600 to 800 contacts is done during the treatment. It might cause slight discomfort, but it lasts only for a few minutes. Majority of TMD patients suffering from jaw pain experience substantial pain reduction after one or two sessions.
People suffering from chronic jaw pain often prefer acupuncture for relief since it is a non-invasive treatment option. Acupuncture is based on traditional Chinese therapy, and it focuses on restoring the “Qi” flow through the body. As traditional Chinese therapists say, all ailments result from an imbalance or disturbance in the flow of “vital energy” or “Qi” through the body. The treatment is focused on bringing back the balance of this vital energy in the body.
A study published after checking the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating patients with jaw pain concluded that “acupuncture therapy is effective in reducing the degree of pain in patients with TMD, especially those with myofascial pain symptoms.” Acupuncture treatment includes using painless needles that are inserted at specific points in the body. The purpose is to restore the Qi flow through the pain areas and restore body balance.
The treating acupuncturist would determine the location where needles would be inserted into your body. Ideally, the area of the pain, the area around the ear, and the jaw are targeted when treating TMD patients suffering from jaw pain.
Seeking proper help when suffering from jaw pain is highly recommended. If left untreated, your symptoms may worsen, and the treatment might take longer. The perusal of various treatment options for patients suffering from TMJ disorders resulting in jaw pain would help decide the best option.