It’s a story many TMJ sufferers know all too well: seeing multiple doctors, dentists, and even specialists in a quest for treatment. Despite all the different treatments they may try, they don’t get the results they’re looking for. Reading a story like that can make you wonder why it’s so hard to get effective treatment for TMJ. Why, in fact, is there no cure for the condition?
But don’t let stories like this one discourage you. There are actually several reasons why it can be hard to find the right treatment for your TMJ. Fortunately, we may not have a cure for TMJ, but in our office we are very effective at treating TMJ to give long-term relief from the symptoms.
When Joints Go Wrong, It’s Hard to Make Them Right
Although it may not be a consolation for people with TMJ, they should know that they’re not the only people with a joint problem that’s hard to fix. In fact, most joint problems don’t resolve well with treatment. Many people with a knee, ankle, or elbow injury understand that damaged joints don’t always heal the way they’re supposed to. They may be treated repeatedly over years, but still offer only partial relief.
And the jaw joint is one of the most complicated joints in the body. It’s designed to allow for movement along six different axes, and both of the jaw joints have to work together. That makes treatment a challenge.
TMJ Can Mean Many Things
But when it comes to TMJ, there is even more challenge than in treating other joint problems. That’s because TMJ is a label that’s used broadly to describe many different forms of jaw problems. Three common forms of TMJ include myofascial pain disorder (MPD), disc displacement, and degenerative joint disease. MPD is the most common form, so common that at one time it was a synonym for TMJ.
Figuring out what type of TMJ a person has can be a challenge, and it’s possible that a person will have multiple types at once. Treatments that are successful on one type aren’t necessarily successful on others, so people can get little or no relief from otherwise successful treatments simply because the treatments don’t match their type of TMJ.
We Don’t Fully Understand TMJ
And, of course, we have another major challenge when it comes to treating TMJ: we don’t fully understand it. It’s like migraines in that way: we can’t find a cure for something we don’t fully understand. Incidentally, migraines are closely linked to TMJ, but we don’t understand the precise link between the conditions any more than we understand either condition individually.
There are many theories about TMJ, but no one has established which one is the accurate description of the condition, and until we have that, we may have difficulty matching people with treatments.
Don’t Give Up
Looking at the above, we understand why so many TMJ sufferers are frustrated with their condition and want to resign themselves to living in pain. But we urge you: don’t give up. For many people, treatment is possible, and it can relieve your symptoms so you can live without pain and the nuisance of other symptoms like tinnitus or tooth damage.
At our office, we are very good at identifying the people we can help. We have a suite of scientific equipment that we can use to precisely measure the condition of the jaw for a scientific diagnosis. A good diagnosis is one of the hardest factors in finding treatment. Then we’ll know if we can help you or not.