Pain of any sort can be debilitating, for the many people who suffer from TMJ pain, life has a range of added frustrations and complications.
TMJ is short for the Temporo Mandibular Joint or the jaw joint. This is a complicated joint that can become very painful when a person experiences high levels of stress, has bad postural or chewing habits or has suffered a problem such as a whiplash injury. In 4 out of 5 cases the problem is muscular and can be resolved by a course of treatment from an approach known as psychophysiology. This approach combines the research and skills from both psychological and physiological sciences in order to maximise health benefits.
Statistics show that up to 20% of the population will experience some form of TMJ disorder during their lifetime and 5% will experience such high levels of pain that they will be desperate to find help. At any one time 2-5 % of the adult population can suffer from pain associated with Temporo Mandibular disorder.
Suffering from TMJ pain can result in problems in dental hygiene, eating, speaking, relaxing or sleeping and can reduce quality of life substantially in a number of other ways. These difficulties are extremely frustrating for the sufferer and can also result in anxiety or depression.
The intervention for TMJ offered by Pain Management and Rehabilitation Services is a comprehensive wellness program derived from the research and experience of the University of Minnesota TMJ and Craniofacial Pain Clinic and the adaptations to this program by a dental researcher, Dr Robert Uppgard.
- We do an initial assessment that involves a comprehensive stress history and may also involve testing the different muscles used in face, jaw or neck movement. This is a non intrusive test that measures the amount of electricity discharged by tense muscles.
- We design and then recommend a specific set of exercises to help relax and increase movement in the face, jaw and neck.
- We suggest a specific diet and exercise program to improve fitness and mood.
- We provide some advice on posture and how to walk, stand, use a telephone, drive a car or sit at a desk to ensure that no part of your body is unduly stressed.
- We help you to improve your general stress resiliency and ability to cope with frustration
- In some situations we will also provide help with associated conditions such as whiplash, fibromyalgia, anxiety or depression.
The treatment process will involve weekly attendance at a program for between 10 and 20 weeks depending on the severity of the problem and the response to treatment. We have a number of clinicians who will offer you the best range of treatment.
Researchers generally agree that TMJ pain fall into three categories:
- Myofascial pain: This refers to pain or discomfort in the muscles that control jaw function and can also extend to the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
- Internal problems with the joint itself: This involves problems developing in the disc that provides a cushion between the skull and lower jaw.
- Inflammatory joint disease: A number of different kinds of arthritis can affect the jaw joint as well as any other joints in the body. The most common types affecting TMJ are: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid, Traumatic (following an injury), Infectious, Psoriatic and Gouty Arthritis. A similar problem can be due to Synovitis which is an inflammation of the synovial membrane.
Our clinic treats difficulties due to myofascial disorders while TMJ pain due to other reasons is treated by medical specialists.
The main symptoms of TMJ disorders are:
- Being unable to open the mouth comfortably
- Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint when the mouth is opened
- Locking of the jaw when the mouth is opened
- A bite that feels uncomfortable or “off centre”
- Neck, shoulder or back pain, swelling on the side of the face near the jaw joint
A very useful link is to the TMJ Association which has excellent resources and explanations regarding the different facts of this upsetting condition: http://www.tmj.org/