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Temporomandibular Disorder Pain

Temporomandibular joint disorder is basically an umbrellaterm for numerous different types of medical problems which are commonlyassociated with the temporomandibular joint, the masticatory musculature and othersurrounding structures. Painful sensations which commonly accompany thetemporomandibular joint disorder can be divided into two main types – the temporomandibularjoint pain (which is also referred to as osteoarthritis, capsulitis orsynovitis) and the masticatory muscle pain. Painful sensations may alsosometimes be in a direct relation to different sorts of dysfunctions of theentire masticatory system such as limitation of movement, locking of thetemporomandibular joint, clicking and several others. Facial pain triggered bytemporomandibular joint related medical problems commonly affects up to 12percent of the general population. It is an interesting fact that it affectswomen twice as much as it affects men. In most cases, the signs and symptoms oftemporomandibular joint disorder occur in people who are between 20 and 40years old. Pain induced by temporomandibular joint related problems may resultin significant loss of workdays and may be held responsible for quite an amountof health care related costs.

Causes and Symptoms

Each side of one’s head has its own temporomandibular jointwhich is located just in front of the ears. Considering the location and itsfunction, there are numerous different types of factors which can be heldresponsible for the onset of pain in the temporomandibular joint. In most casesthe structures around the joint are affected by physical stress, which leads tothe onset of pain. The structures in question include the teeth, nearby nerves,nearby blood vessels, nearby ligaments, muscles of the neck, muscles of theface, muscles of the jaw and the cartilage disk at the joint. Among the mostcommon causes of temporomandibular joint disorders are tooth grinding, stress,orthodontic braces, bad bite, poor posture, lack of sleep, poor diet,structural problems present since birth, dislocations, fractures, arthritis anddifferent types of injuries. Temporomandibular joint disorder can easily becharacterized by certain types of signs and symptoms. The most common onesamong them include a reduced ability to close the mouth, reduced ability to openthe mouth, tenderness of the jaw, painful sensations in the jaw, headache,earache, dull aching pain in the face, grating, popping or clicking whichoccurs when closing or opening the mouth and discomfort or difficulties whenchewing and biting.

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are a number of different types of medical specialistswhich may be required in order to diagnose the temporomandibular joint disorderproperly. Those medical specialists include the ear, nose and throat doctor, adentist and of course the primary care provider. A proper diagnosis requires avast array of different examinations which may need to be performed. Those examinationsmay include x-ray scans in order to show any abnormalities, listening, feelingand watching to the opening and closing of the jaw, sliding the teeth from sideto side, pressing around the head for areas that may be painful or sensitive,feeling the joint and all the connecting muscles for any signs for tendernessand a dental examination in order to check for any poor bite alignment. Thedoctors often need to consider any other medical conditions such as headaches,nerve related problems, neuralgias and different types of infections which maybe held responsible for the symptoms of the temporomandibular joint disorder.There are different sorts of treatment options available but most initial ones needto be gentle in natures. A steady exercise regime may be of great help when itcomes to increasing the ability to handle pain. Various stress reducingtechniques and relaxation techniques may also be very helpful. Moist cold andheat packs applied to the affected areas of the face are also known for beingbeneficial for most cases of temporomandibular joint disorder. All differenttypes of actions which may be triggering the symptoms such as chewing gums,singing or yawning need to be avoided as much as possible. Certain types of medications are often used asa part of treatment plan, and those include corticosteroid shots,antidepressants, muscle relaxant medicines and short use of non steroidal antiinflammatory drugs, naproxen, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Teeth clenching andteeth grinding may be reduced by bite guards which are also sometimes referredto as splints. One needs to be extra careful because they may worsen thecondition in some cases. Rare cases of temporomandibular joint disorders may requirejoint replacements or reconstructive surgery of the jaw.


The symptoms of the condition may sometimes go away on theirown with little or no treatment at all. Some cases of temporomandibular jointdisorder may be involved with certain types of complications such as chronicheadaches and chronic painful sensations of the face. One needs to avoidchewing gum or eating hard foods very often in order to prevent thetemporomandibular joint disorder.

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