A temporomandibular joint syndrome occurs when the joint connecting your jaw to your skull is damaged. Arthritis could be one of the reasons why you are experiencing jaw pain. Regular activities like chewing, swallowing and speaking become a more difficult task. This may cause pain in the ears and other parts of the face. Arthritis can damage your jaw depending on the type of arthritis you have. TMJ that occurs as a result of osteoarthritis or inflammation from rheumatoid arthritis could deteriorate the functioning of your TMJ. The swelling and degradation of the disc can result in a TMJ disorder diagnosis.
Symptoms Of TMJ And Arthritis
You may experience trouble while eating hard or chewy foods. You may have to endure a scraping noise from inside your jaw. You may also experience a clicking sound when you open and close your jaw. However, not everyone who has TMJ pain can blame it on arthritis. Other issues as a result of joint damage or muscle tissue myofascial pain may also be the reason.
Different Types Of Arthritis Associated With TMJ
The most common type of arthritis that leads to jaw pain is osteoarthritis. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis and spondyloarthropathies.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that wears down the joints that are affected. You start to experience stiffness which leads to pain. The affected joint if overused can result in swelling.
Rheumatoid arthritis results in an attack on your joints. This disorder attacks healthy, living tissues like the lining of joints.
Spondyloarthropathies are various types of arthritis that include the areas where tendons and ligaments attach to the bones. One of the types, called ankylosing spondylitis, affects the neck and back, causing pain and limited jaw movement.
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Can Affect Jaw Joint
Rheumatoid arthritis has the ability to affect any part of the body. This implies the immune system attacking a healthy joint tissue by mistake that results in painful inflammation. A large number of people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis also complain of jaw pain. Female patients are more prone to TMJ issues. It is coupled with other issues like irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and chronic headaches and ringing in the ears.
Self Care For TMJ And Arthritis Sufferers
There isn’t a specific treatment option available for patients who experience TMJ pain. However, there are various treatment plans such as physical therapy, electrotherapy, exercises, heat and ice. Patients looking for better pain relief may respond to TENS, a method of pain relief by mild electrical current using tiny dot electrodes. Nurofen and Feldene are anti-inflammatory creams that can be used over the jaw.
If you already suffer from TMJ pain, your doctor would prescribe a medicine to you. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories could help in easing the pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also provide you with muscle relaxants that could relieve any pain associated with a clenched jaw. Tricyclic antidepressants are commonly used for depression. They also can help with combating chronic pain associated with TMJ.
However, if these medicines do not work, your doctor would recommend surgery. Various surgical procedures that involve injecting small amounts of fluids to an open jaw would address the problems associated with the joint.
Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working for the Smile Clinic, he's gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he's not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.