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  • Writer's pictureSimon Coghlan MSc, BSc Physio, DipMedAc

Understanding Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain Disorders and Treatment Options

Updated: Apr 14

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders can cause discomfort and impact daily life. Understanding the available treatment options is crucial for managing these conditions effectively. Here I'll explore various aspects of TMJ disorders, from diagnosis to surgical interventions, highlighting when surgery might be necessary and what it entails.

Diagnosing TMJ Pain disorders often involves a combination of clinical examination and imaging techniques such as MRI. This allows healthcare professionals to assess the position of the joint disc, ligament integrity, and the presence of any abnormalities like fractures or tumours.

TMJ and TMD pain

Treatment Options

Conservative Methods:

  • Physiotherapy: The cornerstone of TMJ management, focusing on muscular overload and dysfunction.

  • Joint Rinsing: A non-invasive method to alleviate symptoms and improve mobility. 

  • Clinical-Surgical Integration (CSI): Combining clinical and surgical approaches for comprehensive care.

Surgical Interventions:

  • Fracture Repair: Surgical repair may be necessary for severe fractures.

  • Disc Repositioning: A minimally invasive procedure that can restore disc alignment when non-surgical methods fail.

  • Disc Replacement: In cases of significant TMJ disc thinning, replacement with autografts or artificial discs may be necessary.

  • Arthrosis Management: Smoothing of the condylar head can relieve pain and improve joint function.

  • Blockage Creation: Preventing jaw dislocation through surgical techniques.

  • Prosthesis Insertion: Custom or off-the-shelf prosthetics can address bite disorders or ankylosis.

Indications for Surgery: Surgery is only considered when conservative treatment, such as physiotherapy, fails to alleviate pain and restore function. Indications include severe pain, restricted movement, or significant joint abnormalities such as fractures or tumours observed on imaging.

Recovery and Rehabilitation: Post-surgery, patients must undergo physiotherapy to aid recovery and optimise joint function. Healing times vary depending on the procedure, with ongoing support from healthcare professionals.

While the majority of TMJ issues respond well to conservative treatments like physiotherapy, surgical intervention may be necessary in specific cases. 

Understanding the indications for surgery and available treatment options empowers patients to make informed decisions about their care. At our clinic, we provide comprehensive assessments and personalised treatment plans for individuals with TMJ disorders. We also work closely with a team of excellent maxillofacial surgeons to help those patients who may need further investigation and possibly a surgical opinion.  

By sharing this knowledge, we aim to promote awareness and support better management of TMJ disorders for improved quality of life. If you have any concerns about your TMJ health, don't hesitate to reach out to our team for guidance and support.

By Simon Coghlan.

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