The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a common cause of facial pain and headache. Located where the lower jaw and skull meet, the TMJ is a ball and socket joint that allows the lower jaw (mandible) to move and function. Symptoms of TMJ disorders may include earaches, headaches, and a limited range of jaw movement. Patients may also complain of clicking and grating sounds in the joint, or pain when opening or closing their mouths. Some patients experience a combination of muscle and joint problems. Causes of TMJ disorders include osteoarthritis, cartilage (disc) displacement or injury, rheumatoid arthritis, or stress.
In order to properly diagnose and treat the problem, in our office we conduct a clinical examination and use a number of diagnostic procedures, including imaging studies such as radiograph, CT or MRI when needed. Treatment may include such non-surgical options as soft diet, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical and/or bite splints. Lysis and lavage and arthroscopic joint surgery are minimally invasive procedures that have proven effective in resolving certain conditions involving TMJ pain and dysfunction. These procedures can be done under IV sedation or general anesthesia on an outpatient-ambulatory procedure either at our office or at a ambulatory surgery center. More complex joint procedures like disc repair or replacement, condylar shaving or total joint replacement may be indicated for advanced conditions as needed.