What is the TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint at the jaw that you use to eat and chew. In mild TMJ syndrome, patients notice intermittent pain in the joint in front of the ear or in the muscles around the joint when talking or chewing. The joint has four key components with two that are often missed even by expert TMJ physicians, surgeons, and dentists.
First, like any joint, the TMJ has cartilage inside that serves as a protective cushion where the bones that make up the joint meet. In addition, like the knee, there is a natural spacer in the joint known as the “disc” (articular disc of the TMJ joint). This is a meniscus-like structure that moves in predictable ways as you open and close you jaw and that provides further protection for the joint due to the immense loads that can be generated with chewing. Like any other joint in the body, the cartilage or spacer can be injured or become damaged due to wear and tear leading to painful arthritis.
The next key component of the joint is the muscles that help to move it. There are many different ones including the masseter, the large temporalis that comes from the side of the head, the pterygoids, and strap muscles. The muscles work together in a symphony of millisecond-timed precision to open and close the jaw. These are powerful muscles that can develop trigger points like any other muscle—areas that are shut down and painful. These muscles also have tendons that attach to bone, so these areas can develop tendinopathy—or small tears and degeneration which can cause them to become painful.
The final two key components are often overlooked by TMJ experts, and are key to treat RMJ effectively .These are the ligaments that stabilize the joint and how the TMJ fits into its regional ecosystem in the body—the head and neck.
Ligaments stabilize joint by acting like pieces of duct tape that guide it and prevent motions for which it wasn’t designed. The TMJ has many ligaments that often get ignored by medical providers. These are the sphenomandibular, stylomandibular, and capsular ligaments. In addition, the tough covering of the joint (capsule) is further divided into collateral (lateral) ligaments, similar to the knee.
Finally, most TMJ providers focus on the bright shiny object of the TMJ itself, forgetting that it’s a joint that lives in the ecosystem of the head and neck and that it can’t work efficiently without it’s neighbouring structures working well. So neck problems will place more pressure on the TMJ joint. In addition, if the neck is unstable because its ligaments have been injured or the small muscles that stabilize it are off-line, then the body attempts to use the TMJ muscles as accessory stabilizers of the neck. Given that the joint and its muscles aren’t designed to handle these extra loads, it eventually breaks down, and the muscles get overwhelmed.
Regenerative Treatment for TMJ?
Regenerative Therapy is an alternative treatment option that continues to be proven successful, not only by scientist and researchers, but also by doctors who utilize this treatment for a variety of conditions, including TMJ, knee pain, osteoarthritis and arthritis pain relief.
Patients suffering from pain can be at risk of depending too heavily on regular medications to relieve their pain. However, any temporary relief does not come from tackling the cause of pain. Pain medications also have undesired side effects, and some of those can be serious. Regenerative Therapy on the other hand and by means of several protocols will ultimately help initiate the self-healing cycle in the injured part of the body, the end result then is pain relief.
Regenerative Therapy utilize biologic material harvested directly from the patient’s body to help heal disease and injury. The treatment has become a game changer for accelerating healing, regenerating tissue and combating pain. It has reduced the need for prescription medications and knee surgery, proving to be a helpful tool towards managing and potentially eliminating pain in the body. Regenerative Therapy has helped untold amounts of people overcome insufferable chronic knee pain, restoring their function and mobility, and improving their quality of life.
Non-surgical Regenerative treatments are a same-day procedures and the options are:
• Platelet-rich plasma – PRP therapy
• Mesenchymal cell therapy
• SVF (Stromal vascular fraction) therapy
Click to read more about each Regenerative Treatment option
In certain cases it may be a combination of more than one treatment protocol. For some patients however, the complete protocol is a series of injections in several treatment sessions. The choice of treatment is at the discretion of the Consultant and is based on your unique case.