Does it hurt when you chew? Do you have trouble or pain opening your mouth or opening it wide? Do you get headaches or pains which seem to start just in front of your ear or to be made worse when you press on that area, bite hard or chew? Then it’s likely you have temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, pain in the joint that controls the movement of your jaw. This is what the joint looks like:
What Causes TMJ Pain?
Overuse, chewing on hard substances for long periods of time, can cause of TMJ pain. Another cause is bruxism, grinding your teeth, or chewing in the wrong way because your teeth are uneven. Fractures of the jaw which do not heal perfectly straight can also cause wear and tear injury to the TMJ (see osteoarthritis). At times, trauma or surgery can damage the nerves that supply your temporo mandibular joint. This can cause the nerves to swell and get trapped in the holes where they exit to reach the joint and the skin of your face.
When they are trapped, the swelling persists and can cause ongoing pain as they keep re-injuring themselves on the walls of these holes. You can tell this is the cause if the skin around your temporomandibular joint is tender when you press lightly on it. Perineural injection therapy (nerve blocks) can help. Many people suffering from TMJ pain have been successfully treated with perineural injection therapy (nerve blocks). Because this treatment is very safe, it is worth trying at least once, particularly if your pain has not been helped by other treatments. The relief is almost immediate.
Can Prolotherapy Help TMJ Pain?Because prolotherapy can strengthen the ligaments that control your jaw movements, and help regrow the fibrocartilage disc inside your joint, and because it has very few side effects, it is worth trying before more invasive techniques are used on you. Prolotherapy was first used in the 1900s to help temporomandibular joint pain.
What is Usually Done for TMJ Pain?You will probably have naturally stopped chewing on very hard foods, and may be doing relaxation exercises to loosen the muscles of the jaw. Your dentist may have prescribed a bite splint or have sanded down some of your teeth to give you an even bite. If that is not enough, you may have to wear braces or have crowns inserted. If even that fails, you may be told you need jaw surgery which can have serious complications. Braces, crowns, and surgery are permanent, costly, and should be avoided if at all possible.