Wednesday, November 4, 2009

TMJ - What it all about

For quiet sometime if you have been following me on Twitter or if you know me personally you know that I have been complaining about TMJ so I thought that I would give you all a little insight into what it is and why its so painful and an update on my condition. The acronym for TMJ actually refers to joint in your jaw called the Temporomandibular Joint and this joint can become inflamed leading to a disorder. It is this disorder that is what is going on with me and unfortunately it is generally a chronic inflammation much like Arthritis, so it will come and go.

The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible to the skull, and the disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment. Because the joint is so close to your ear, ear pain is associated with the swelling and many times it feels like its an ear infection or ear pain. Another classic sign of TMJ disorder (TMJD) is a constant clicking or popping and an occasional locking of the jaw, and even possible in more extreme untreated cases it will lead to lock jaw.

There are many reason why people develop TMJD and mine is mainly due to clenching my teeth while I sleep, but other reason include:
  • Trauma to the jaw
  • Grinding Teeth

  • Excessive gum chewing or nail biting

  • Size of foods eaten

  • Clenching

There are many courses of treatment that can be followed and because of the pain and the joint it will probably take a combination of your dentist and physician to develop a treatment plan that works for you.

A dentist will generally fit you for a bite guard that will be used during sleeping hours to prevent someone from clenching and grinding their teeth as this is a leading cause to TMJD. A physician will generally prescribe pain killers and NSAIDs to reduce inflammation of the joint. My physician is also trying a therapy that involves an anti-anxiety medication to allow my jaw to relax while I sleep, this medication is taken at bed time as it generally will cause severe drowsiness which is a bonus for me as I have been having a hard time sleeping, again another problem that you may recall if you follow me on Twitter or know me personally.

I can say that after a week of being on this medication my pain in my jaw has subsided significantly to almost unnoticeable, and most of the medication that I have been prescribed is to be used on a need basis regime, other than the anti-inflammatory. My physician highly suggest that I continue using this on a daily basis as a form of preventative measures and to lessen the frequency of painful flareups.

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