Pain is never pleasant. It can keep you from doing the things you love to do, it can even keep you from living your best life. Pain in different parts of the body can restrict different aspects of daily life depending on which body part is most effective. For example, if your knee hurts, it may be difficult to bend and straighten your knee, it may even be difficult to bend the joint. If you have pain in your back, you may not be able to bend over or carry heavy items. Each body part controls different aspects of a person’s life. The legs control walking, standing, and many basic movements. The arms control lifting, carrying and reaching. The jaw controls chewing and speaking. While it is incredibly difficult to deal with limited to no ability with your legs or arms, there are ways to compensate. With the jaw, however, what happens when you are not able to open your mouth enough to eat? While there is technically the option of a feeding tube, the vast majority of people wish to avoid this at all costs. Especially when the problem with the jaw can be remedied. Any joint has one specific job, to let two bones create a part of the body that can move.
There are several different types of joints within the human body. One type is called a ball and socket joint. This type of joint requires one bone to have a socket, a hollow area where the other bone can fit snugly. The second one must have a rounded end that will perfectly fit into the socket. An example of this joint is the shoulder. With a ball and socket joint, you will be able to move the limb in multiple directions. The second type of joint is a hinge joint. This type of joint can only move on one track instead of multiple directions. An excellent example of this type of joint is the knee. There are also pivot joints such as the neck, saddle joints like the one found at the base of the thumb. Finally, you have the condyloid joint found in the wrist. The jaw has a particular type of joint that is both a hinge joint and a sliding joint. This joint is called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ for short. Unfortunately, the TMJ, like many other joints can develop various problems. When something goes wrong with the TMJ it is called TMJ disorder and depending on the severity, it can make your daily life a terrible struggle. This is because it can limit your ability to eat, drink, and even speak. If you are not able to eat, you will rapidly and dangerously begin to lose weight. If you cannot drink, you will begin to dehydrate. Not being able to speak can also have some fairly serious consequences depending on your career and current situation.
Thankfully, there are several treatment options available to help manage TMJ disorder. The first step is getting to the root of the problem. The term TMJ disorder is often used to describe anything that happens to the joint which means it is not always as simple as going to your doctor and saying that you think you have a TMJ disorder. While this will open up the line of communication, there is not a single test that will determine whether or not you do have this disorder or single treatment to get rid of it. For this reason, you must set up an appointment so that your doctor can determine exactly what is going on with your temporomandibular joint. Getting to the cause of your TMJ disorder will allow your doctor to determine the best course of action for you.
So, how do you treat TMJ? It all depends on what the underlying cause turns out to be. One possible line of treatment will involve going to your dentist. There are a few different ways a dentist may be able to help with your TMJ. For example, the jaw sustains when a person grits their teeth and/or clenches their jaw on a regular basis. This can be alleviated with the right type of mouthguard. Also consider that this not only causes problems for your jaw, it also damages your teeth. This means that your dentist will likely give you a special guard as well as attempt to rectify any damage already done to your teeth. Another possible reason to develop TMJ is misaligned teeth or a misaligned jaw. If your teeth are the problem, you may need braces to correct the problem. If it is your jaw, you will have to talk with your doctor about the severity of the problem and what your options are. If you suspect that your teeth are the problem in some way, you can make an appointment directly with your dentist and let them guide you through the next steps. If you do not have any idea what the problem may be, it is best to make an appointment with your general practitioner and let them determine whether or not you need to get a specialist involved. You could be referred to a physical therapist, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, or a general surgeon.
Many types of TMJ disorder are treated with special exercises that work to strengthen and improve the functionality of the joint. Your doctor or physical therapist will be able to show you the best TMJ exercises to use as different ones are meant to be done for different types of TMJ disorder. If you like to do your research before going into a new type of treatment, there are quite a few resources available that will show different types of exercises and break down what each one if for, how it helps, and how to modify it if you are having trouble. These exercises are not right for everyone and even when they are the best course of action, it is important to do them correctly or they will not work.