Jaw pain can be a deliberating condition that affects the ability to speak or eat and may restrict jaw moments. The jaw bone is connected to the temporal bone of the skull on the lateral side and anterior to ear lobes and held together by facial muscles. This joint is known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). The underlying cause for the condition of jaw pain might be difficult to prognosis as the case might be related to genetics, arthritis, or sinuses.
Understanding Jaw Pain: How To Find Relief
Causes of Jaw Ache:
Jaw pain may be caused due to injury to jawbones, fatigue from muscles, or maybe due to abnormalities. There could be various reasons for your jaw pain. However, here are a few conditions in which jaw pain might occur.
1. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD): TMJD is the most common cause of jaw pain. The exact cause of TMD is difficult to assess as it might be due to one or many combined factors. The two TMJ each on one side may at the same time or one side is affected and another side can be normal.
However, the most common cause for TMD also known as TMJ is listed below.
a. Due to genetic disorder cause structural integrity damage
b. Due to tenderness of muscles over the jaw.
c. The jaw joint cartilage might be destroyed due to arthritis.
d. Tremendous chewing or grinding the teeth (bruxism)
e. The joint disk is eroded or out of its proper alignment due to Injury
2. Sinuses problems: Sinuses are a network of lymph nodes that assures blood to the face, head, and many other body parts. Any blockage or infection of sinuses causes swelling over jaw muscles with lymph and radiates pain.
3. Tooth pains: The infection of a tooth in rare cases to the jaw through the lymph and causes pain in jaws and jaw joints.
There are other cases, that arise these symptoms are Cluster headache, obnoxious grinding of teeth, injury or blow, damage to the nerve supplying jaws( Trigeminal nerve facial branch). Most of the time symptoms of jaw joints are trivial and temporary. There can be conditions where the cause is hard to determine and a person needs to go under tests such as X-ray scans and such.
Jaw Pain Immediate Reliefs
The symptoms of jaw pains are often temporary and relief could be provided easily.
1. Heat/Cold pack: The pain might be caused to disruption of normal mechanisms due to injury, infection, or invasion and cause the release of histamine to make you feel pain. Cold packs or Heat pack slowdowns histamine release, thereby relieving the pain.
Put an ice pack or wrap ice in a thin cloth and place it over the jaw and apply little pressure. After 10 minutes, remove it. Take a small break before repeating the previous step.
2. Pain reliefs medicine: Paracetamol, Acetaminophen, or Ibuprofen may relieve pain. However, it is not recommended to take for more than two or three days.
3. Massage the affected area: Use your middle and index finger to gently move in rolling motion over jaw muscles in10-15 rotations clockwise. After that repeat step anticlockwise. Keep massaging for 10 minutes to provide. Although, this may not work for everyone.
When To Consult a Doctor
You must consult when the tenderness of jaw muscle is persistent or if you are unable to completely open your jaw or unable to make any jaw movements. If you can determine the cause of pain if because of injury chronic pain is present, consult a doctor or TMJ specialist. If it is due to tooth infection, consult a dentist.
Most cases just need a small treatment or prescription to relieve chronic pain. However, the extent of jaw pain is determined by diagnosis. And the diagnosis is made by tests like
a. X-ray of jawbones
b. CT scan of jaws to examine jawbones and connective tissue of that area.
c. MRI scan to examine the structure of jawbones and alignment of jawbones to the skull.
And treatments include
a. Prescribing medicine for pain, muscle relaxers, medication to help reduce swelling.
b. Recommending to use a few splints to correct the jaw alignment distorted due to time injury.
c. Injecting botox to reduce tension in jaw muscles.
d. Corrective dental treatments
It is the last resort to perform any major surgery for jaw pain. They may do in case of correcting the jaw alignments or replacement of joints. However, it is very rare to perform surgery for jaw pain.
Risk Factors That Jaw Pain
The factors that risk TMD or associated jaw pains are the below
1. Various types of arthritis that joint such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis can TMJ
2. Injury or Blow to the jaw
3. Certain connective tissues disease between jaw muscles and over jaw bone affects the joints in the jaw
4. Long-term grinding the teeth out of stress or habit.
PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.