When a doctor begins the process of diagnosing a patient for TMJ syndrome, one of the first things that the doctor will do is perform a medical exam as well as complete the medical history of the patient. However, there is not a particular test that is used in the diagnosis of the disorder. The doctor may refer the patient to a specialist who deals with these types of disorders. The patient may be asked to see a dentist (specializes in disorders of the jaw), an otolarynologist ( an ear, nose and throat doctor), or an oral and maxillofacial specialist. All of these specialists can help to confirm the initial diagnosis.
An MRI can also be ordered to determine if there is any damage to the cartilage in the jaw or the temporomandibular joint. The MRI will also help to determine if there are other issues that have not been diagnosed.
There is a condition that has similar signs and symptoms. This condition is known as trigeminal neuralgia. This nerve provides the nerve impulses that are sent to the temporomandibular joint. When this nerve becomes irritated, the result can be severe facial pain. It is not uncommon for facial pain to be the result of glands that are swollen, sore throat, strep throat, properly fitting dentures, braces or salivary gland disease.
So is there a treatment for TMJ syndrome? Do natural remedies provide pain relief from TMJ?
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Fortunately, there are many symptoms related to TMJ disorder that respond positively to home or natural remedies. Stress reduction techniques and other techniques for relaxation have also shown to be beneficial. There are several natural remedies that have the ability to provide relief.
Placing ice packs over the affected area (cold packs)
Over the counter medication such as Motrin and other ant-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs – naproxen products such as Aleve
Eating foods that are soft and not chewing gum
Facial exercises and massages (may be prescribed by a physical therapist or a doctor)
Techniques for stress reduction
When these methods are not effective in treating the symptoms, medical intervention may be required. Some of these treatments and therapies include:
Bite guard or dental splint – dental appliance that helps to prevent teeth grinding. Similar to a mouth guard and fitted by a specialist
Botox – helps to relax the jaw muscles. Not yet FDA approved for this type of treatment
Physical therapy – helps to strengthen the muscles of the jaw
In states where marijuana has become legalized, some doctors may prescribe it for the severe pain related to TMJ. However, when cases become severe, surgery may be the only acceptable remedy. The procedure is minimally invasive, but in some cases, a joint replacement may be necessary.
During recovery, the patient may be prescribed pain relief medications, muscle relaxers and/or steroids.