Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that attaches your jaw to your skull, and it’s responsible for allowing you to eat, speak and express yourself. The TMJ is a hard-working joint that we use all the time but when it is dysfunctional it can cause sounds, unusual jaw movements and TMJ pain. In this post, we’re going to explore TMJ disorder and answer the question ‘how long does TMJ last’.
Understanding The Signs And Symptoms Of TMJ disorder
If you have been diagnosed with TMJ disorder, you may experience some of these symptoms:
- Pain or discomfort in your jaw when you use it, most commonly experienced when eating
- Your jaw locks so you can’t close or open your mouth
- Grating or clicking sounds when you try to move your jaw
- A pain or ache in front of your ear that may extend to your face
- Shoulder or neck pain
- Earache, tinnitus, hearing loss or dizziness
- Swelling on the side of the mouth affected
- You might also find your temporomandibular joint is sensitive
While it isn’t always apparent what the cause of a TMJ disorder is, some of the most common causes of the temporomandibular joint disorder include
- A misalignment of the TMJ disc
- Myofascial pain
- TMJ disorders may also be caused by trauma to the jaw
TMJ disorders can be exacerbated by teeth grinding, which some people do at night in their sleep. It is often connected to high levels of stress or anxiety, however, some people have sleep disorders that may contribute to bruxism
Poor posture, like straining your neck and shoulders while working at a computer screen can also worsen TMJ pain
TMJ disorders tend to affect women more than men, and the research indicates that men and women respond differently to treatment for the disorder.
Women between the ages of 18 and 44 are at greater risk of developing temporomandibular joint disorders, which are heightened during childbearing years.
Furthermore, genes related to stress response and inflammation may put you at greater risk of developing the temporomandibular joint disorder.
People who suffer from chronic pain disorders may be at increased risk of temporomandibular joint disorder.
How Long Does TMJ Last
The good news is that there are a lot of treatments available for TMJ pain, and the best course of treatment often depends on the cause of your disorder. If your jaw makes a noise when using it and you do not have any other symptoms, it’s likely that you won’t need treatment. Lots of people find that their TMJ pain improves over time, but if yours isn’t, here are some of the potential treatment options your practitioner could recommend:
This means giving your jaw a break when you can. Cut your food up into very small bites so your jaw has less work to do. If you have pain in your TMJ, try to eat soft foods that don’t require as much chewing. Practice gentle stretching exercises to ease the joint into action. Try cold compresses or warmth against your jaw joint to relieve pain and aching.
Get physical therapy
Working with a physiotherapist can help to improve joint flexibility, improve the strength of the jaw muscles and reduce pain.
Get to the root of your stress
Many people hold stress in the jaw, and sometimes it manifests as teeth grinding at night. But, if you find yourself clenching your jaw when you’re having a stressful conversation, your stress levels might need some work. Meditation, deep breathing and yoga can all benefit your stress levels by helping you to process it differently. Over the long term, cognitive, behavioural or talking therapy can help you to work through stress and tension productively.
Medication For TMJ Disorders
If your TMJ symptoms are not improving through other methods, your medical practitioner may recommend medication to relieve pain and discomfort.
For short term pain, anti-inflammatory pain medication may bring relief
Muscle relaxants may help with psychological and physical stress
Injecting Botox into the jaw joint may also bring relief.
So How Long Does TMJ Last?
For most people, TMJ pain comes and goes. The pain might flare up and be uncomfortable for a few days or a few weeks, but should subside. Knowing how to manage a flare-up can help you to cope better and get through the discomfort. Not practising self-care and treating a flare-up can make it chronic.
In order to cope with the flare-ups, your medical practitioner will create a care plan that best suits your needs. When you experience TMJ pain, you will need to revert to your care plan to treat your symptoms. Any worsening symptoms should be reported to your medical practitioner.
Will TMJ Disorder Go Away?
Yes, in the majority of cases, TMJ disorders are mild and respond well to the care tips listed above. In many cases, TMJ pain will self resolve or respond to the methods listed here. In some cases, the symptoms can become more severe and are exacerbated by speaking and eating and will require professional medical treatment.
If your TMJ disorder is caused by an underlying medical condition like infection of the joints, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, cancer, or anxiety, the associated pain can be resolved by treating the condition.
For help with how long does TMJ last, or to develop a care plan to help you manage flare-ups, you must consult with a professional. Please contact us for an appointment: (03) 9068 5357.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome
Temporomandibular joint disorders
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction