TMJ disorder causes a host of trying symptoms, including difficulty chewing, clicking or locking of the jaw and significant pain. While numerous Americans suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder, reports suggest that just about 7 percent attempt to get help. Often, this is because they fear the prospect of surgery, which doesn’t always prove effective and usually leads to long periods of downtime. That said, many people also fail to seek help, because they remain unaware that there are other non-invasive ways to treat their conditions.
Does Your TMJ Need Treatment?
The truth is that many cases of TMJ are transient and don’t need any professional care. People can manage the discomfort and dysfunction related to the condition at home, using simple home remedies and over-the-counter medication. Alternating ice and moist heat on the joint can reduce discomfort. Take ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications according to the label instructions. Give your jaw a rest with a soft diet and by stopping stressful habits like chewing gum and biting fingernails.
But many cases of TMJ won’t resolve spontaneously, so how do you know if your TMJ is likely to need treatment? We generally recommend that you try home care for no more than a week. If your condition worsens or doesn’t improve during that time, seek professional care. And if your TMJ recurs, it’s probably time to seek professional care. In addition, the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) recently completed a study on this question. It was published in the Journal of the American Dental Society in July 2019, and it showed that people were almost twice as likely to have chronic TMJ if they had a greater number of physical symptoms than those with fewer symptoms. The authors noted these symptoms as being indicative of higher chronic TMJ risk:
- Jaw pain during normal activities
- Joint and muscle pain during exam
- Jaw sounds
People with jaw sounds and jaw pain during normal activities should schedule an exam to have their jaw examined to see if they likely have a chronic form of the condition.
Because they are eager to find a comfortable, non-invasive treatment for TMJ disorder, some people give physical therapy a try. Recently, the physical therapy provider KORT (Kentucky Orthopedic Rehab Team) issued a press release explaining how their practitioners use this strategy to relieve the symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint disorder.
According to the release, KORT therapists use a variety of manual physical techniques, including joint mobilizations, spine and soft tissue massage and trigger point dry needling in an attempt to improve neck mobility, muscle strength and joint balance. According to KORT, patients usually need several sessions before they will see any benefits; however, despite this, the procedures may still appear attractive to people who want to avoid the pain and risk associated with TMJ surgery.
Most people fear the thought of painful, invasive surgery to treat temporomandibular joint disorder. That being said, physical therapy isn’t the best alternative for patients whose bite is to blame for their TMJ disorder. Since they do not target the source of TMJ pain, manual physical techniques, such as joint mobilizations, spine and soft tissue massage and trigger point dry needling, aren’t likely to offer anything more than temporary relief.
Dr. Reeves provides a noninvasive treatment for TMJ disorder that addresses the root cause of TMJ symptoms: a bad bite. By fixing this problem, we offer permanent relief from temporomandibular joint disorder; so patients can enjoy full, symptom-free lives. To learn more, call Beyond Exceptional Dentistry at (912) 234-8282 in Savannah, Georgia today.