Arthritis: A Common Cause of TMJ Disorders

If you are experiencing discomfort in your jaw, headaches, and ear pain, they might be signs of arthritis, which is also a common cause of TMJ disorders. Arthritis can affect the joint where the skull and jaw meet, which is known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The joint allows your jaw to function and move, and acts like a hinge.

Understanding Arthritis and its Link to TMJ Disorders

Arthritis is a form of degenerative joint disease which can exist in the TMJ. It can cause limited jaw movement, pain and tenderness of the jaw. Popping or clicking sounds may happen because of a displaced disc located between the socket and the jawbone. This will cause some pain and discomfort when chewing or opening and closing the mouth. A hole may also develop in the disc due to arthritis which can cause a grating sound when moving the jaw. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, arthritis in the TMJ is affecting 10 million Americans.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Depending on the severity of the arthritis, the symptoms may vary. Most of the common symptoms are:

  • Inflammation around the jaw joint
  • An ache or a sharp stab when moving the jaw
  • Tenderness of the jaw
  • Restricted jaw movement
  • Grating, creaking or clicking sounds
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Ear or neck pain
  • Tooth pain
  • Headaches

When to Seek Treatment for TMJ Disorders

It is a good idea to seek treatment (e.g., cold laser treatment) if you are having jaw pain. An earlier prognosis could be vital to treat arthritis or any other TMJ issues. Knowing that you have arthritis early may help prevent even more damage to your jaw. Your orofacial pain specialist will review your medical history and examine your jaw. Explain your symptoms for them to better understand what the best treatment is for you. Your healthcare provider may order imaging tests such as an X-ray of your jaw, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan or a CT (computed tomography) scan. These tests are key for them to get a detailed view of your jaw and a proper diagnosis.

What are the Best TMJ Treatment Options?

Depending on the type and severity of your jaw arthritis, treatment will differ. The goal of the treatment is to manage your pain and to prevent further jaw deterioration. As of now, there are no treatments to reverse the damage of jaw arthritis. Conservative treatments such as physical therapy, jaw rest or wearing a mouth guard resolved pain symptoms in more than 80 percent of patients. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe injections or oral drugs such as pain relievers and muscle relaxants. If these treatments are not effective, another option is surgery.

Seeking TMJ Treatment at Head Pain Institute

At Head Pain Institute (HPI), we are the leading authorities in the United States for treatment of any TMJ disorder. Our treatments are non-surgical, less invasive and based on professional medical diagnosis. Do not hesitate to contact us today so we can assist you to better understand your options and alleviate your concerns.