Inflammation of the Temporomandibular joint, better known as TMJ syndrome, is a common source of pain for millions of people each year. While many are plagued by this widespread ailment, few truly understand the causes and treatment options available. It can come as a surprise, but Doctors of Osteopathy have been treating the malady for decades and can be a great source of information. To make the most of your visit with an osteopathic doctor, take a look at some questions you may want to ask:
1. What exactly is TMJ Syndrome?
To truly understand your treatment options, you must have a working knowledge of what TMJ syndrome truly is. The Temporomandibular Joint connects the upper and lower parts of the jaw. When the joint malfunctions, you experience pain. This can occur with popping noises, or the jaw may feel like it is stuck. There are many different theories of what causes the joint to become misaligned, but some common causes include teeth grinding, poor posture, and impact injuries. The pain can sometimes be mistaken for headaches or ear infections. To obtain a proper diagnosis, you should seek the advice of a trusted medical professional.
2. How does Osteopathy help?
Osteopathy is a medical practice that utilizes physical manipulation of the bones and muscles as treatment options to medical problems. Doctors of Osteopathy are licensed medical doctors and must attend medical school. Some doctors of osteopathy take a holistic approach to medicine. This just means these doctors approach the wellbeing of a patient from every aspect. They address not only the specific medical issue, but also look to the nutritional habits, lifestyle choices and exercise regimen to work toward an effective treatment goal. For sufferers of TMJ Syndrome, doctors of osteopathy generally utilize massage and cranial manipulation to alleviate symptoms.
3. What are some ways to alleviate the pain?
There are a few different methods to try to help ease pain. For those who grind their teeth, mouth guards can sometimes be helpful. Stress is also a cause of TMJ pain, so techniques that relieve tension can be effective. Massage and cranial manipulation can gently reset the joint, while manipulation of the spine can encourage better posture, which helps set the joint correctly.
4. How many visits will I need to make?
Most doctors will be unable to truthfully give you an accurate answer as to the visits necessary for relief. This is because it varies from patient to patient. You should still ask your doctor, however, for an estimate. Doctors of Osteopathy generally have a good sense of the amount of therapy necessary. Oftentimes, the patient is able to recognize when he or she feels they are no longer in need of regular visits. Many patients, however, continue their visits for much longer, due to the overall successful results.
5. Does a Doctor of Osteopathy believe in surgery?
Doctors of Osteopathy generally attempt to solve medical issues with alternatives to surgery. Nutrition, lifestyle choices, and stress are all factors that D.O.’s tend to address. Massage and skeletal manipulation are better treatment options for many. In extreme cases, however, surgery might be required for the treatment of TMJ syndrome. You should ask upfront what your doctor’s philosophy concerning surgery may entail.