Monday, February 6, 2017

Face Pain? It Could be TMJ





In primary care we commonly see patients with ear pain, sinus pain or headache.  It's often hard for patients to self diagnose where the pain is originating and they want treatment for sinus or ear infections.   When examination of the ear or sinuses doesn't show a problem, many times we find out that it is from the jaw.


TMJ  (Temporomandibular Joint) or TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) is a common cause of facial pain and can affect as many as 10-15% of adults.  It presents with pain, ear discomfort, headache and jaw pain. It is caused by inflammation in the joint that opens the jaw, right in front of the ear and sometimes there can be a snapping of the jaw as it is widely opened.  You can think of this joint as a hinge that connects the jawbone to the skull.  Like any joint, it can get inflamed and the surrounding muscles of the jaw hurt.


The treatment for TMJ is resting the jaw from wide opening and anti-inflammatory medication.  Most of the time it resolves within about 2 weeks.  Some patients get relief with a mouth splint that keeps them from grinding or clenching the jaw at night. For severe cases, physical therapy with ultrasound and ice can help.  Rarely a corticosteroid injection or botox can relieve pain and relax the muscles.


Remember, not all face pain is from sinuses or ears and antibiotics will not help if it is TMJ pain. Usually a course of anti-inflammatory medication (ibuprofen, aleeve)  is all that is needed.

2 comments:

Anna said...

Nice post...

Papaya Care said...

Thank you for this post. Really, many times we have some types of pain which we can't identify or understand the reason for causing of that pain and we take any pain relief medicines.
Thank you for highlighting these TMJ and TMD cause of pain and their treatments.
This is very informative and also helpful for us.

Keep the good work going and keep posting.
All the very best.

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