Chronic pain is one of the most common conditions affecting adults in the US. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult conditions for your doctor to treat. Doctors often can’t track down the source of chronic pain and often prescribe medications like opioids because they just don’t know what to do. That’s part of the reason why we have an opioid epidemic in this country–opioid overdose is one of the leading causes of accidental death in the US.
But did you know that you can get relief from many types of pain without drugs? TMJ treatment offers an alternative to traditional medicinal approaches to pain, and it can offer relief from many common types of pain, including headaches, facial pain, neck pain, and more.
To learn whether TMJ treatment can help your chronic pain in Centennial, CO, please call today for an appointment with TMJ dentist Dr. Kary Berry at Park Meadows Dental Care.
Types of Chronic Pain Associated with TMJ
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD) start as a jaw disorder, but they can lead to many types of chronic pain. TMJ can cause:
- Jaw pain
- Ear pain
- Facial pain (“sinus headaches”)
- Headaches (even if these have been diagnosed as migraines)
- Neck pain
- Back pain
TMJ can lead to jaw imbalance, which causes excess muscle tension and can put pressure on many different tissues directly in your jaw, or on nerves that run through your jaw or weave around your jaw muscles.
Ear pain can be related to pressure on nerves around the ear or on the inner ear itself, which is housed in the skull’s temporal bone (part of the temporomandibular joint).
Facial pain can come from many different sources. It could be related to the fact that jaw muscles run from the bottom of your jaw to your temples. When these muscles are sore, you can feel it as pain in the face. Extra jaw tension can put pressure on the teeth, which radiate pain up into the jaw.
Common tension headaches can be related to the tension in the jaw muscles. Because the jaw muscles stretch all the way up to the temples, they can cause headaches you feel anywhere in the head.
TMJ can cause neck pain and back pain because the jaw muscles work with neck muscles to support and balance the head. When jaw muscles are tense, they put stress on other muscles in the area. This can include muscles in the neck, which can pass on their stress to the muscles of the upper back. It can sometimes be hard to track this pain back to your jaw, but if you have pains in this area that aren’t responding to other treatment, TMJ may be the source.
TMJ and Other Chronic Pain Conditions
Although TMJ is a serious condition on its own, it may also be linked to other chronic pain conditions. Some research suggests that TMJ can lead to:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Branches of the trigeminal nerve, which brings pain signals from most of the face, interweave with jaw muscles. This pressure can even overstimulate the trigeminal nerve, which is the trigger point for migraines. Specifically, the pressure can lead to the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP is so crucial to the formation of migraines that four different pharmaceutical companies are pursuing CGRP inhibitors for migraine drugs.
CGRP has also been implicated in the formation of fibromyalgia and IBS, both of which frequently co-occur with TMJ. It’s possible that early treatment of TMJ can potentially prevent the development of these other pain conditions.
Drug-Free TMJ Treatment
If you are looking for a pain management approach that doesn’t rely on drugs, TMJ therapy may be able to help. Best of all, you may be able to see immediate relief that can be extended indefinitely through many different treatment approaches.
To learn whether TMJ treatment can help you manage your chronic pain in Centennial, CO, please call today for an appointment at Park Meadows Dental Care.