TMJ - Treatment

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What is the treatment for TMJ syndrome? Are there any home remedies that provide TMJ pain relief?

Many symptoms of TMJ syndrome can respond well to home remedies or stress reduction and relaxation techniques. The following home remedies may provide some relief:

  • Ice or cold packs to the area of the joint
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing gum
  • Massage or gentle self-stretching of the jaw and neck muscles (a doctor or physical therapist can recommend appropriate stretches)
  • Relaxation techniques and stress reduction

When home remedies are not effective, medical treatment options may be necessary. These include the following:

  • Dental splint (occlusal splint or stabilization splint or bite guard), which is a dental appliance placed in the mouth that keeps the teeth in alignment and prevents tooth grinding. This resembles a mouth guard and is usually prescribed and fitted by a jaw specialist.
  • Botox may be used to relax the muscles of the jaw. However, this is not currently an FDA-approved treatment for TMJ syndrome.
  • Physical therapy with jaw exercises can strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and range of motion.
  • In states where medical marijuana is legal, it may be prescribed to help with severe TMJ pain.
  • In severe cases, surgery on the jaw or dental surgery may be necessary.
    • TMJ arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure usually done in an outpatient setting. Recovery time for this procedure is about a week.
    • Sometimes a total joint replacement is needed. This generally requires a stay in the hospital for several days, and recovery time is four to six weeks.
  • Prescription-strength pain medicines, muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory medications, or steroids may be necessary.
Return to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)

See what others are saying

Comment from: MOF, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 01

Decades ago, I gave up. I was diagnosed with TMJ around 1977 (I was a teen, and I think that is the right year), went to a TMJ specialist who fitted me with an appliance and kept adding more to it each time I went. Although I had no bite when it was out, I also had no relief. When we moved from that area, the dentist was pretty horrified that I had no bite. So off to an orthodontist. I also saw an oral surgeon in there some time, who had more imaging of my TM joint. No help. We tried biofeedback. Nada. I tried progressive relaxation (guided), and no help. I even tried acupuncture. At this point, I was in college, and pretty much gave up. Back then, I had many good days that I didn"t really hurt, and flare ups that were bad. Now, I have daily pain, can"t remember the last time I had no pain. In January, I started getting daily sharp pain with inhalation - trust me, not fun. And not a typical TMJ symptom. When I went for a physical about 6 weeks later, I mentioned it, and got referred to a neurologist. He has me on gabapentin right now - I think it has helped with that specific pain, but not the chronic ear/jaw pain I have. He just upped the dose, to see if that helps. At least he is trying. But man, whatever it really is, I wish we could figure out the right treatment. It stinks having constant pain of varying degrees. It affects my concentration and energy level. And is just a bit of a drag.

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Comment from: Jrox, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

Get your testosterone checked! I have TMJ but my testosterone levels were at a 0.8 when they should be between 40 and 50 and testosterone helps with muscles and a whole lot of other things; however there is a linkage between low testosterone and TMJ... I"m so excited to give testosterone pellet therapy a try to help get rid of TMJ!

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