If you have recently been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, you might be wondering exactly what in the world you’ve gotten. Most people aren’t familiar with the acronym or the condition. And there’s a good reason for that. Many physicians are still new to the idea, as are many dentists. Taking a quick look at the background of the disorder can help you get a better feeling for your Temporomandibular joint disorder condition.
The Early Years
Well before TMJ was classified as a medical condition, people had been suffering from unexplained jaw pain, headaches, and ear aches. Because the common culprits, such as sinus infections, cavities, or tumors, could be ruled out through tests, many doctors and dentists assumed the pain was psychogenic meaning the patients were basically creating the pain in their minds. This was the same way problems like fibromyalgia were first treated by physicians must to the dismay and frustration of the sufferers of undiagnosed TMJ disorder.
A Change in Approach
Almost three decades ago, a handful of dentists started noticing a connection between jaw problems and these same conditions. People who had suffered dislocated jaws, for instance, seemed to be more likely to experience the symptoms of TMJ disorder. As more became known about the body and as technology brought great strides to diagnosis, some medical professionals began realizing that the problem might not be all in the patient’s head.
By about 1980, the medical industry was making the connection between these symptoms and the TM joint. However, more research would be necessary before the condition could become an official diagnosis.
The TMJ disorder was affecting a large number of adults, primarily women, and many of them were willing to be involved in studies if it meant the relief of their pain. Thanks to these ongoing studies and the research they were able to publish later the condition became a legitimate diagnosis. Around the same time, the connection between rheumatoid arthritis TMJ was being found as well.
Because of the research that was emerging from these studies, more patients were able to receive appropriate treatments for their condition. In the past, the only treatment had been pain medications. Now that the TMJ disorder was becoming better understood, more effective treatments could be developed.
Because TMJ disorder is caused frequently by an inflammation in the joint, one of the more invasive procedures to be used has been Arthrocentesis. This procedure allows the area around the joint to be cleaned so anything causing the inflammation can be safely removed. SomeTMJ dentists may also use a type of medication in the procedure that will help relieve the pain, too.
Other treatment approaches have included a better understanding of the connection between stress and TMJ disorder. Because stress can lead to some of the risk factors, such as teeth clenching and grinding, that can cause the inflammation leading to the disorder, now doctors and dentists are recognizing the need for a psychological aspect to the treatment.