There are several medical terms you may encounter that are commonly known by their letters rather than the full name. TMJ is one of those acronyms used throughout our society and refers to the temporomandibular joint, while TMD refers to all the disorders relating to this joint. Republic Pain Specialists have the information you need about this painful disorder and how to treat it if you think you may be experiencing it.
What is it?
The temporomandibular joint is located in your face, along your jaw, connecting your jawbone to your skull. This hinge is vital to our lives, even if we don’t think about it often, assisting us when we talk and chew and in other more subtle ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, “The temporomandibular joint combines a hinge action with sliding motions” and are “covered with cartilage and are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk.” This joint and the surrounding tissue are supposed to create smooth movements that allow us to function normally without noticing any issues. TMJ disorders happen when this smooth movement becomes associated with ongoing pain, discomfort, or even the inability to open or close your mouth.
Due to the number of potential issues related to TMJ, the causes of TMJ disorders are difficult to determine. Some individuals have a predisposition because of connective tissue disorders, but this is less common. Many more have TMJ disorders because of a jaw injury or the long-term clenching and grinding of their teeth. Arthritis can also contribute to TMJ disorders. While we all may have temporary pain from a minor injury, chewing or talking too much, biting down on a foreign object, or a short amount of difficulty sleeping, when this pain becomes persistent, you need to seek additional help for care.
In addition to looking at the cause for the pain, there are a few ways to help treat TMJ. Our Republic Pain Specialist team will assess your overall level of discomfort, so it will be helpful for you to keep a note on your phone or documentation by hand for when you are experiencing this pain and use a rating scale for how intense it may be. There are times when physical therapy or even counseling may help with this condition, again, depending on the cause. We also may suggest an injection to relieve pressure and pain around this area, allowing for a full range of motion in addition to a better quality of life.
To assess more if you are experiencing pain that could be diagnosed as TMJ or if you are experiencing pain in general that you want to seek help and treatment for, contact Republic Pain Specialists. Our team will work with you to understand and relieve your pain with a plan that makes sense.