Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
How Long Do TMJ Symptoms and Signs Last?
Acute TMJ symptoms and signs may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and then disappear after the injury or cause of discomfort has resolved. For a chronic TMJ condition, the symptoms can be ongoing with episodes of sharp and/or dull pain that occur over an extended period of time (months to years).
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for TMJ?
Occasional pain in the jaw joint or chewing muscles is common and may not be a cause for concern. See a doctor if your pain is severe or if it does not go away. You should also see your health-care professional if is hurts to open and close the jaw or if you have difficulty swallowing food. Treatment for TMJ syndrome ideally should begin when it is in early stages. If the condition is identified early, the doctor can explain functioning of the joints and how to avoid any action or habit (such as chewing gum) that might aggravate the joint or facial pain.
If your jaw is locked open or closed, go to a hospital's emergency department.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose TMJ Syndrome?
Depending on the what doctor suspects as the cause, he/she may order blood tests that include a white cell count and other tests to rule out lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout as a cause of the TMJ syndrome.
If the diagnosis of TMJ syndrome is not clear or some other disorder is suspected, CT or MRI scans may also be obtained The MRI scan can help assess the soft tissues and the inside of the joint. A CT scan can help assess the bony structures and muscles. Experts believe that in doubtful cases, MRI is the study of choice as it is useful in evaluating TMJ disease.
In rare cases, if all the above tests fail to make a diagnosis of TMJ syndrome and pain still persists, the surgeon may use a needle to clean and irrigate the joint (arthrocentesis).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/18/2017
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