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What is the cause and treatment for temporomandibular joint disorder?

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Posted on Mon, 12 May 2014
Question: I was diagnosed by my dentist with TMJ. My major symptons are ear, neck and left side facial pain. I also have a constant ocean sound in my ear I have had these problems for many years but the past year the pain is increased greatly. I am 85 years of age and have always been told that I have a perfect bite. No false teeth.
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Answered by Dr. Rovena Murati (2 hours later)
Brief Answer: There are many causes of TMJ disorders. Detailed Answer: Hello! I am Dr.Rovena and I had gone through your query and medical history. Your symptoms are typical and indicative for Temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ disorders are a group of complex problems of the jaw joint. Because muscles and joints work together, a problem with either one can lead to stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (malocclusion), clicking sounds, or locked jaws. The following are behaviors or conditions that can lead to TMJ disorders: 1)Teeth grinding and teeth clenching (bruxism). Those who grind or clench their teeth may be unaware of this behavior unless they are told by someone observing this pattern while sleeping or by a dental professional noticing telltale signs of wear and tear on the teeth. Many patients awaken in the morning with jaw or ear pain. 2)Habitual gum chewing or fingernail biting Dental problems and misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion). Patients may complain that it is difficult to find a comfortable bite or that the way their teeth fit together has changed. Chewing on only one side of the jaw can lead to or be a result of TMJ problems. 3)Trauma to the jaws: Previous fractures in the jaw or facial bones can lead to TMJ disorders. 4)Stress frequently leads to unreleased nervous energy. It is very common for people under stress to release this nervous energy by either consciously or unconsciously grinding and clenching their teeth. 5)Occupational tasks or habits such as holding the telephone between the head and shoulder may contribute to TMJ disorders. If you have one of this conditions well you found the cause of your problem. The treatment for acute TMJ pain include: -1). Jaw rest: It can be beneficial to keep the teeth apart as much as possible. It is also important to recognize when tooth grinding is occurring and devise methods to cease this activity. -2) Heat and ice therapy: These assist in reducing muscle tension and spasm. However, immediately after an injury to the TMJ, treatment with cold applications is best. Cold packs can be helpful for relieving pain. -3) Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and others), naproxen (Aleve and others), or steroids can help control inflammation. Muscle relaxants, such as diazepam (Valium), aid in decreasing muscle spasms. -4) Physical therapy: Passively opening and closing the jaw, massage, and electrical stimulation help to decrease pain and increase the range of motion and strength of the joint. -5) Surgery: Surgery is indicated in those situations in which medical therapy has failed. It is done as a last resort. Hope I was able to help you clarifying your doubts.If you have further questions please feel free to write to me.I will be happy to answer it. Take care Dr.Rovena
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Raju A.T
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Follow up: Dr. Rovena Murati (20 hours later)
I appreciate your answers and they do coincide with info I had looked up on line myself but I am in hopes of some more personal info for me to deal with this problem on a personal basis for future outbreaks as the pain is getting worse with each occurrence. I hope to avoid any surgery considering my age but looking forward to many more years that are not as painful as these are becomming. Even breeze from a/c outlets start extreme ear pain. Is there any other cure other than pain meds or surgery?
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Answered by Dr. Rovena Murati (1 hour later)
Brief Answer: Pain manegment and at least surgery. Detailed Answer: Hello! I read carefully your query. Considering your age neither I recommend you surgery. If another outbreaks occur I suggest to follow this steps: -Try the conservative non-pharmacological measures I write you above: -Soft diet to rest the muscles of mastication -Heat 15-20 min four to six times per day. -Massage of the masseter and temporalis muscles -Range of motion exersices(open,close and rotation) -Take Ibuprofen 800 mg three time a day. -Take Naproxen 500 mg twice a day. -Take Diazepam 2.5-5 mg three time a day. If these measures doesn't help than I suggest you to consult A Oral Maxillofaciol surgeon or an ENT surgeon. Other treatment options can be Intraarticular steroid injection and at least Surgery. I am sorry but these are the treatment possibilities for this disorder. Hope this answered your inquiry.Please let me know if you have further questions. Regards. Dr.Rovena
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Yogesh D
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Dr. Rovena Murati

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2013

Answered : 1243 Questions

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What is the cause and treatment for temporomandibular joint disorder?

Brief Answer: There are many causes of TMJ disorders. Detailed Answer: Hello! I am Dr.Rovena and I had gone through your query and medical history. Your symptoms are typical and indicative for Temporomandibular joint disorder. TMJ disorders are a group of complex problems of the jaw joint. Because muscles and joints work together, a problem with either one can lead to stiffness, headaches, ear pain, bite problems (malocclusion), clicking sounds, or locked jaws. The following are behaviors or conditions that can lead to TMJ disorders: 1)Teeth grinding and teeth clenching (bruxism). Those who grind or clench their teeth may be unaware of this behavior unless they are told by someone observing this pattern while sleeping or by a dental professional noticing telltale signs of wear and tear on the teeth. Many patients awaken in the morning with jaw or ear pain. 2)Habitual gum chewing or fingernail biting Dental problems and misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion). Patients may complain that it is difficult to find a comfortable bite or that the way their teeth fit together has changed. Chewing on only one side of the jaw can lead to or be a result of TMJ problems. 3)Trauma to the jaws: Previous fractures in the jaw or facial bones can lead to TMJ disorders. 4)Stress frequently leads to unreleased nervous energy. It is very common for people under stress to release this nervous energy by either consciously or unconsciously grinding and clenching their teeth. 5)Occupational tasks or habits such as holding the telephone between the head and shoulder may contribute to TMJ disorders. If you have one of this conditions well you found the cause of your problem. The treatment for acute TMJ pain include: -1). Jaw rest: It can be beneficial to keep the teeth apart as much as possible. It is also important to recognize when tooth grinding is occurring and devise methods to cease this activity. -2) Heat and ice therapy: These assist in reducing muscle tension and spasm. However, immediately after an injury to the TMJ, treatment with cold applications is best. Cold packs can be helpful for relieving pain. -3) Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and others), naproxen (Aleve and others), or steroids can help control inflammation. Muscle relaxants, such as diazepam (Valium), aid in decreasing muscle spasms. -4) Physical therapy: Passively opening and closing the jaw, massage, and electrical stimulation help to decrease pain and increase the range of motion and strength of the joint. -5) Surgery: Surgery is indicated in those situations in which medical therapy has failed. It is done as a last resort. Hope I was able to help you clarifying your doubts.If you have further questions please feel free to write to me.I will be happy to answer it. Take care Dr.Rovena