living with chronic pain

Living with Unexplained Chronic Pain? TMJ disorder could be the Cause

living with chronic painServing areas of Okemos, Lansing, and East Lansing, MI

Have you been diagnosed with migraine headaches, but failed to find any relief in how frequently the headaches occur? Are you living with the agony of pain in the neck, back, and shoulders with no readily identifiable cause? Is an earache affecting your ability to sleep or go through your daily routine? You may be surprised to know that all of these physical symptoms can come from the same source—temporomandibular joint disorder. Often referred to as TMJ disorder or TMD, this ailment might technically be an oral health issue, but its consequences can radiate throughout the body. Read on to see how TMJ disorder can cause chronic pain, and how your Lansing neuromuscular dentist at Tenaglia Smiles can help.

What is TMJ disorder?

Your temporomandibular joint is a small, ball-sized joint that connects your jaws to your skull on either side of your head. TMJ disorder occurs whenever this joint starts to malfunction—usually due to a misaligned bite, grinding your teeth (also known as bruxism), or after sustaining an injury due to some an impact to the head or jaw. Any issue with your temporomandibular joint soon affects the function of your jaws, and how your teeth come together when you bite. From there, the problem quickly can spread to the surrounding soft tissue, muscles, nerves, and blood supply.

The symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary widely from person to person, but there’s usually one constant: pain. Why? Because the temporomandibular joint is located very close to the trigeminal nerve, which transmits a significant amount of sensory information to your brain. When TMJ disorder develops, the trigeminal nerve becomes compressed, aggravated, or irritated, sending impulses of pain to your brain. This stimulus of the trigeminal nerve often results in painful headaches that occur with regular frequency and may be misdiagnosed as migraines. If you’ve been seeking migraine relief, and the medications and treatments being used only alleviate the intensity of the headaches but do nothing to reduce their frequency, then TMJ disorder could be the true cause of your headaches.

The effect on nerves and musculature also can lead to pain emanating from the jaws, face, ears, neck, and even the shoulders and back. The pain caused by TMJ disorder can become debilitating, meaning it is severe enough to impede your ability to function daily.

When it comes to treating TMJ disorder, pain relief is our top priority

Dr. Tenaglia uses some of the latest technology and tools to treat muscle pain caused by TMJ disorder. This includes using ULF-TENS, an acronym for Ultra-Low Frequency Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation. This entails exposing compressed muscles to gentle pulses of electricity, providing a de facto massage that increases blood flow and encourages the production of endorphins in the affected area. While this may sound painful, it actually provides instant relief for those suffering from TMJ disorder.

From there, we can manage your pain by addressing the root of the problem—the dysfunction of your temporomandibular joint. Tenaglia Smiles prefers to treat TMJ disorder by prescribing patients with a device known as an orthotic, a custom-made oral appliance that is worn over the teeth to bring your bite and jaws into alignment, alleviating the stress on the temporomandibular joint itself. These custom-made oral appliances take into account the desired jaw alignment and are made from precise impressions of your teeth.

TMJ Treatment in Okemos

If you have TMJ disorder or think you may suffer from this malady, you need to seek the care of a neuromuscular dentist. A practitioner of neuromuscular dentistry has specialized knowledge focusing on finding or restoring the ideal alignment of the bite and jaw. This training makes a neuromuscular dentist the best choice to make a correct diagnosis of TMJ disorder. Dr. Christine Tenaglia has studied neuromuscular dentistry at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, which is considered the finest institution in the country for post-graduate dental education. She uses state-of-the-art equipment and tracking technology to diagnose TMJ disorder, and then provides relief.

You don’t have to live any longer with the pain that TMJ disorder causes. Schedule a consultation at Tenaglia Smiles today by calling (517) 347-6733 if you live in the areas of Okemos, Lansing, and East Lansing, Michigan.

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