TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, is a condition of the temporomandibular joint commonly referred to as TMJ. The TMJ is the joint connecting your jaw bone to your skull.
It is a hinge with sliding motions. Parts of the bone interacting in the joint are covered in cartilage and separated by a small disk to absorb the shock, creating a smooth movement.
TMD occurs when one of these parts are out of place. Often, this causes pain, limited jaw movement, and tenderness in the face. Dr. Matthew McRae, Jr. in Athens, GA can offer treatments to address TMJ pain and TMD.
Causes and Risk Factors
When diagnosing the cause of TMD, Dr. McRae will check to determine if:
- The disk has eroded or moved out of its proper alignment
- The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
- The joint is damaged by a trauma or injury
While TMJ treatment exists, it is often difficult to diagnose the reason TMD is occurring. TMD is more common in women than in men, and typically found in patients between the ages of 20 to 40.
Symptoms of TMD may go away without treatment in some cases, but if your symptoms persist, Dr. McRae can offer you some treatment options.
Medications can be used in conjunction with other nonsurgical TMJ treatments to alleviate the discomfort associated with TMD. Some of the medications used include:
Prescription pain relievers can be prescribed by Dr. McRae if over the counter pain relievers are not strong enough to combat the discomfort caused by TMD.
Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, were commonly used for depression but are now also effective for pain relief. Muscle relaxants are sometimes used for short periods of time, such as a few days or weeks, to help relieve pain. Sedatives such as clonazepam may be prescribed by Dr. McRae if teeth clenching at night is exacerbating your TMD.
There are also a number of nonsurgical TMJ treatment options available including:
Physical therapy, which might include ultrasound, moist heat, and ice
Counseling to understand and avoid factors and behaviors contributing to your
In the instance medication or therapy does not alleviate your TMJ discomfort, surgical options are available. The typical surgical options include:
- Arthrocentesis, which involves the insertion of needles into the joint so that fluid can be irrigated through the joint to remove debris and inflammatory byproducts
- Corticosteroid or botulinum toxin injections into the joint
- Surgery to repair or replace the joint*
* The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research considers TMJ surgery to be controversial and recommends that it be avoided whenever possible.
If you suffer from TMJ pain and discomfort, we can help. For more information about TMD or TMJ treatment options, call Dr. McRae in Athens, GA today.