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Temporomandibular  Joint Disorder

Home > Pain Conditions > Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

About Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) syndrome or disorder is the term given to painful conditions relating to jaw movement and pain in and around the jaw joints. It infers inflammation of the sliding joints that connects the jawbone and the skull called the temporomandibular joint. It is a disorder that causes pain from any form of jaw movement such as eating or talking. The causes may include referred pain arising from occipital neuralgia to nerve hypersensitivity of the surrounding nerves. Even a neck condition can give rise to TMJ pain.

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

Multiple factors contribute to the muscle tightness and dysfunction of this condition. The most common cause is muscle tension. When faced with stress, you may clench your jaws or grind your teeth, over time, it results in muscle spasms, sore muscles or various complications. 

Some possible risk factors for TMJ are as follows: 

  • Bruxism
  • Poor posture of the neck 
  • Stress
  • Women of childbearing age 
  • Menopausal syndrome
  • Chronic inflammatory arthritis / History of Jaw Trauma
  • Genetic predisposition 

Symptoms Of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Patients may experience a variety of symptoms such as:
Patients may experience a variety of symptoms such as:

  • Jaw pain
  • Difficulty in opening your mouth
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw area when opening or closing your mouth
  • Tinnitus
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Toothache

When Should You Seek Medical Care?

If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above such as jaw pain, difficulty in opening your mouth, clicking and popping of the jaw, it is recommended to visit a doctor right away. You should also schedule an appointment if you grind or clench your teeth.

A Message About TMJ Disorder

The pain from your jaw might not seem serious, especially if it comes and goes. But when left untreated, TMJ dysfunction can seriously impair daily functions like biting, chewing, and speaking.

TMJ pain can be distressing and affects one’s quality of life. The constant pain and the episodic pain flare may be irrespective of any triggers such as opening or closing of the jaw. Many sufferers may even sacrifice their good teeth thinking it is a tooth problem.

This is a complex pain condition that needs a thorough evaluation of local and surrounding structures. Sometimes, if attended to early, it may resolve with a simple solution such as a mouth guard/brace (splints). However, many may need specialised injections to stop the pain generator.

Diagnosing Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

At Singapore Paincare clinics, our team of experienced primary care and pain care specialists together with a dental specialist will conduct a thorough diagnosis by evaluating your medical history and doing a physical examination of your jaw region. If it remains inconclusive, X-rays and MRI scans may be used to investigate the causes of your pain.

What Treatments Are Available for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

At Singapore Paincare, we strive to treat your pain with the least invasive option possible after accurately identifying the cause. Our approach to pain resolution focuses on the removal of pain generators via specialised injection and minimally invasive procedures. Combined with pharmacological treatments and cognitive and physical rehabilitative therapies, we help patients improve functions and prevent pain from recurring.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Splints
Our specialists will offer splints or bite plates for TMJ. It is used to prevent teeth grinding or clenching, but these are meant for short-duration usage.
Myospan Injections
Platelet Rich Plasma Injections are used to improve the healing and recovery of fatigued and overused joints. Alternatively, we offer Botox injections to relieve jaw tension and pain. Apart from providing long-lasting pain relief, the benefits include balancing the face, eliminating headaches and immediate relief.
Physical and Strengthening Therapy
Strengthening and stretching exercises are offered by our specialists. It involves a series of relaxation exercises to release the tension of the jaws. There are specific mobilisation and stretching exercises that our pain physiotherapists can provide to achieve a rapid resolution of pain.

Surgical Treatments for Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

In desperation to get relief for TMJ pain, some may seek immediate surgery. However, conservative methods should be the first line of treatment. As surgery always comes with associated risks, complications, and downtime – it may not be suitable for everyone. Surgery often does not achieve a favourable outcome and it is not recommended.

Arthrocentesis
Under local anaesthesia, this minor procedure is usually done in the office. The surgery is usually required when the jaw becomes locked in a closed position. This surgery can also reduce inflammation in the TMJ. The affected joint is injected with sterile fluids and then washed out. Occasionally, a surgical instrument is required to remove scar tissue or to dislodge a disc that has moved out of place.
Arthroscopy
Performed under general anaesthesia, the surgeon makes a small incision in front of the ear and inserts a small, thin instrument that contains a lens and light. The instrument is connected to a video screen, which allows your surgeon to examine the area around the TMJ. Depending on the cause of your TMJ pain, your surgeon may remove inflamed tissue or realign the disc.
Open-joint surgery
The patient will be given general anaesthesia for this surgery. In contrast with arthroscopy, open surgery uses a long incision to insert instruments. Open-joint surgery requires more healing time, and there is a higher probability of nerve damage and tissue scarring compared to arthrocentesis and arthroscopy.

How Can I Prevent Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

While some TMJ symptoms are caused by factors out of your control like having a misaligned bite. In some cases, you may be able to reduce the risk of TMJ dysfunction by:

  • Wearing a night guard
  • Practicing good posture
  • Wearing a protective mouthguard when playing contact sports
  • Practicing relaxation and reducing your stress level

Get Your Pain Resolved

Send your enquiries or consult our pain experts today.

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