Practical Pain Management Community Advice
Posted in: Medications, and TMJ Disorders.

TMJ disorder and medications

From: rrossi - 5 years 34 weeks ago

My husband has TMJ disorder. He tried ibuprofen for a while, but it didn't seem to help with his pain. He doesn't want to take prescription medications because he's worried about the side effects. I know TMJ disorder is usually temporary, but I don't want to see him suffer anymore. Does anyone have any recommendations on what he can do to feel better?

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1 Response

Is this good advice?

"TMJ" problems are of an orthopedic nature. Yes, they can be transient, but as we age like other joints there can be arthritic breakdown. Since the function of the "TMJs" is necessary for life - respiration (maintaining airway), nourishment etc., these joints will find a way to function with injuries that render many other joints unable to function. They must work so they find a way to work. This can cause the need for accommodation from muscle groups in the head, neck and shoulders. This may contribute to headache, migraine, Trigeminal neuralgias, swallowing, ear and sleep problems as well as other problems involving the function of the jaw, head and neck.
When one is in pain and or has stress or anxiety we seem to clench/brux our teeth and thus overuse the musculature. The muscles that elevate the jaw and stabilize the head are overused.This can cause other pain and anxieties - what is wrong with me and why can't anything help?"
Medications can definitely help many cases, but if they don't give results for even a transient episode or there is hesitation to use them then a dentist that has extensive training and experience in conservative treatment of the problem should be consulted. This is a complex system of muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, bones etc that work in very close and highly coordinated area. One side cannot work without the other and involving the cervicothoracic musculature so neck problems can be aggravated as well. The jaws are working twenty-four seven and don't get much rest! When they are overworking small problems can become big problems!
I have been treating this cases for thirty eight years and am still learning more all the time. The thing to do is to recognize the problem and see your dentist for treatment recommendations. I find that over the counter or mail order appliances may often actually exacerbate the orthopedic problem and even contribute to further problems.