Will stress exacerbate TMJ disorder?

TMJ RichmondIf you have felt stressed out lately and noticed that your jaw has been hurting at the same time, those two issues can very well be related. The muscles involved in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are susceptible to the negative effects of stress, like resulting muscle tension or clenching of the jaw, and can contribute to the discomfort associated with an existing TMJ disorder.

Any number of problems with the bones, muscles or tendons that make up the jaw joint can cause a TMJ disorder, with additional factors–like stress–making symptoms worse. The key to effective treatment of a TMJ disorder that results in symptom relief is an accurate diagnosis that pinpoints which component of the jaw is at fault.

An oral surgeon is well-prepared to diagnose a TMJ disorder, as these specialists receive extensive training focused on the various structures that comprise the human jaw and how they function (or dysfunction, as is the case with TMJ). If you are experiencing persistent jaw pain, you should schedule an evaluation with one of these providers in order to confirm a diagnosis and explore next steps.

After determining the factors that are influencing your particular TMJ disorder, the oral surgeon can then recommend treatment. That treatment may not necessarily require a surgical procedure, either. In fact, for the vast majority of patients with TMJ disorders, the first-line interventions are conservative measures like stress management techniques, physical therapy or managing pain with over-the-counter or prescription medications.

Patients who do not respond well to those less invasive treatments may then become candidates for surgery, as will those for whom a clear structural defect that must be corrected surgically is causing the TMJ disorder. Your surgeon will educate you on all of your treatment options.

If you have been experiencing symptoms of a TMJ disorder, like jaw pain, clicking or popping noises, locking of the jaw or facial or ear pain and recent stress seems to have aggravated the issue, schedule a consultation at our office. Our experienced specialists can examine your jaw, including x-rays, to determine what the best treatment approach will be.

Contact us at Commonwealth OFS today to talk to a member of our caring team!