Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a common condition that affects the small sliding joint that connects the jaw to the skull. It is estimated that between 5% and 12% of the population will suffer from TMJ symptoms at some point in their lives.
TMJ symptoms can include pain, stiffness, clicking or popping sounds, and difficulty chewing.
When patients begin to experience these symptoms, they generally wonder how long these symptoms will last and what TMJ treatments may be available to them.
Below, we'll explain how long TMJ symptoms usually last and whether they can improve on their own.
Duration of TMJ Symptoms
The length of time that TMJ symptoms last can vary substantially between patients. For some individuals, symptoms may only last a few days or weeks and then resolve on their own.
However, for many others, TMJ symptoms may persist for several months and become chronic. The duration of symptoms can be influenced by several factors, including the presence of underlying medical conditions and whether or not treatment was received at the onset of symptoms.
Factors Affecting TMJ Symptoms
The severity of TMJ symptoms is a significant factor in determining how long they will last and which treatments may work the best. Mild cases due to inflammation may resolve on their own within a few days or weeks. More severe cases may require treatment and a longer recovery time until symptoms are reduced to a tolerable level. Also, any underlying structural problems or medical issues may exacerbate TMJ symptoms and prevent them from going away until addressed.
Even with mild cases, an early diagnosis and professional treatment can prevent the symptoms or condition from getting worse. So waiting until the symptoms go away on their own is not a wise course of action.
This means that waiting to see a specialist until the pain becomes worse may ultimately increase the length of time of recovery.
Managing TMJ Symptoms
Regardless of the duration of TMJ symptoms, there are several steps individuals can take to manage the condition and experience less pain.
Self-care measures such as applying heat or ice, practicing relaxation techniques to lessen stress on the joint, and avoiding hard or chewy foods can help reduce pain and inflammation in the joint and surrounding area.
In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage TMJ symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
In more severe cases of TMJ, surgery may be necessary to address the underlying structural problem. Surgical options may include arthroscopy, arthroplasty, or joint replacement. However, surgery is typically only recommended after other conservative treatments have failed and the benefits of surgery are deemed worthy compared to the risks.
More Information About TMJ Symptoms
If you are suffering from TMJ symptoms, it's important to have an evaluation by a professional as soon as possible to avoid continued damage to the joint that could lead to more serious complications.
The Scarsdale Dental Group has the experience to treat TMJ and we use the latest techniques and strategies to help avoid further damage and symptoms.
Contact our specialists at the Scarsdale Dental Group today if you are suffering from TMJ symptoms and let our staff help.