Chronic pain does more than just create physical discomfort; it’s also mentally straining as well. Dealing with pain when completing normal tasks, and even while you’re sedentary, takes a toll on anyone and can often lead to emotional distress as you grapple with the daily aches and soreness in your body. For many people who suffer from TMJ, or TMD as it’s also known, this is their reality.
TMJ is a temporomandibular joint disorder that affects the joints in your jaw that control movement. These joints are crucial to many important movements we make consciously and unconsciously throughout the day such as eating, yawning, laughing, and talking. It’s no wonder that those who have a disorder of this joint experience chronic pain, as it’s nearly impossible to avoid using your jaw.
Depending on the severity of the disorder, TMJ can create a number of symptoms that cause pain, including:
- Jaw pain
- Face, neck, and shoulder pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Chronic migraines
- Jaw locking and/or clicking
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Sleep disorders
These are just a few of the types of negative effects TMJ can cause. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, more than 10 million people in the U.S. have experienced a degree of TMJ, and of those, about 10 percent go on to develop chronic, long-term symptoms from TMJ.
The problem with TMJ disorder is that its symptoms often mimic those of other common ailments, leading many people to live with the disorder and become frustrated when treatments don’t alleviate the pain. Although the disorder is a result of the jaw joints stemming from injury, misalignment, or arthritis, symptoms may not include direct pain in the jaw, leading many people to miss the source of the pain.
It’s often only after many unsuccessful treatments are exhausted that TMJ disorder is finally considered. Fortunately, if you believe that you may be experiencing a level of TMJ disorder, Houston-based dentist Heather Fleschler can diagnose and treat the condition to help you manage your pain.
Dr. Fleschler uses the principals of neuromuscular dentistry to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders. To pinpoint the exact issue causing your pain, she uses the sophisticated K7 Neuromuscular Evaluation System, which applies three precise instruments—a computerized mandibular scanner, electromyography (EMG), and electrosonography—to determine the issue with your jaw and find the correct position to help.
Once the severity of your TMJ has been determined, Dr. Fleschler can customize a treatment plan to effectively reduce your TMJ-related pain. To begin, simple treatment options will be administered such as:
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
- Taking prescribed muscle relaxants
- Performing jaw muscle exercises
- Using moist heat
She may also recommend transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation therapy (TENS) to relax the muscles in your neck and head to release tension and pain. While these treatments are used to lessen the pain as it occurs, she will also work to determine the source of the pain, which is generally a degree of jaw misalignment. She often recommends the use of neuromuscular orthodontics to help keep your jaw in its ideal resting position while also helping to straighten your teeth, all of which can help with TMJ disorder.
Other potential treatment options for long-term relief may include:
- Arch expanders
As you can see, TMJ disorder is a complex condition that not only causes a number of different symptoms but requires complex diagnostics and treatment to help control and reduce pain. Dr. Fleschler will work with you every step of the way to determine the best options for your specific needs so that you can feel better today and in the future.
If you believe that you’re suffering from TMJ disorder, don’t delay in seeking a thorough diagnosis and treatment today. Call our office at 713-660-6500 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Heather Fleschler. We happily help those who live in and near Houston, Sugar Land, and Pasadena, Texas.