The temporomandibular joint is the hinge joint of the jaw that connects the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull. This joint is an articular disc composed of fibrocartilagenous tissue. It comprises, all in all, of six parts: mandibular condyles, articular surface of the temporal bone, capsule, articular disc, ligaments and lateral pterygoid. The TM Joint facilitates movement of the jaws, thereby allowing essential functions like talking, eating and swallowing. Needless to say, the slightest afflictions caused to this joint, disrupt a great deal of its basic functions. The most common affliction that occurs is the TMJ Disorder. So, what is TMJ Disorder?
The TMJ Disorder is a term used to describe an acute inflammation of the TM Joint. It is categorized in three ways:
1. By myofascial pain: The fascia is the tissue that connects the different parts of your body. Fascia around the muscles is called myofascial. Thus, any injury to the myofascial, will automatically adversely affect the muscles. The most common TMJ disorder is associated with myofascial pain in the jaw muscles and neck.
2. By internal injury: Any dislocation, injury, or indeed, any derangement in the joint results in TMJ disorder.
3. By degenerative joint disease: Problems like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis of the jaw are underlying causes of TMJ disorder. It can't be stated for certain what exactly causes TMJ disorder, although there are some standard contributing factors. These can be classified into dental issues (such as ill fitting dentures, tooth removal, missing teeth etc), injury or trauma (on or around the jaw), bad habits (like bruxism or wrong sleeping postures), social situations that cause stress and emotional upheavals (such as depression, anger or fear).
There are a number of signs that you can recognise as underlying symptoms of TMJ disorder. The most likely symptom is otalgia, more commonly known as earache. Since the TMJ is so close to the ear, if there's a disorder in the TMJ, there are bound to be repercussions in the ear. The other fairly common symptom is toothache. Although toothaches are caused due to a number of reasons, a TMJ disorder may bring about toothaches, tooth mobility or even tooth loss. Usually, if the above listed signs are accompanied by headaches, they could be signalling a chronic TMJ disorder.
A number of remedies are available for those suffering from TMJ disorder. In the initial stages of the condition, treatments like heat and ice therapy, or jaw resting techniques are used. Pain medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen are also prescribed. Corrective dental surgeries are used if the condition worsens. Sometimes a splint or bite plate may be required to be introduced. Non invasive and natural cures are also available. These may include stress reduction therapies, soft food diets and face and neck exercises.
For conditions like TMJ disorder, it is always advisable to take a multi dimensional approach. A holistic treatment strengthens your body from within. Therefore, it is much more affective to combine alternative and conventional treatments for long lasting relief. Thus, working on stress reduction methods, along with following a soft food diet and a face and neck exercise routine can go a long way in not only healing the TMJ disorder but also in preventing it from happening again.
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