TMJ Pain Therapy
Temporomandibular joints (TMJ), commonly known as the “jaw joints,” are a set of hinges located on the side of the face by our ears that connects the jaw to the base of the skull and is used to move the jaw up, down, and side to side. When the TMJ is damaged, known as temporomandibular disorder or dysfunction (TMD), they can cause a lot of pain in the jaw in addition to triggering headaches and other symptoms. These other symptoms of TMJ disorder include but are not limited to jaw popping or clicking, ear aches or pain, popping of the ears, stiff and/or sore jaw muscles, and locking of the jaw.
Because the TMJ is also a joint, it can suffer from degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis is caused by inflammation, breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints, leading to TMD. TMD can also be caused by injury to the head and neck, clenching and grinding habits, and stress.
Dr. Cheng has successfully treated many patients suffering from TMD; in fact, he too has suffered from TMD and has tirelessly searched for answers himself. For more information about the condition and therapy for TMJ pain, take a look at a paper published by Dr. Cheng titled "A Cure for TMJ Pain" [link].
A Spotlight Case Study
On a normal CT scan of the jaw, there should be space between the fossa (the upper concavity) and head of condyle (the "knob" of the jaw) for the TMJ disc (refer to image). In TMD, the space has minimized or disappeared and the disc, not seen on the scan, is usually displaced. As a result, there is bone to bone contact without the lubrication and "cushion" of TMJ disc. This can create tremendous pain as very delicate nerves are compressed whether the jaw is in use or not. When the proper joint position is reestablished, space for TMJ disc can be seen on later CT scan of the patient.
In 2007, the radiologist noted that the findings were most consistent with degenerative joint disease (DJD) for the right TMJ. After wearing the appliance fabricated by Dr. Cheng, the radiologist noted that the 2009 scan does not have radiographic evidence of active DJD as compared to the 2007 scan.
In 2013, the radiologist again noted that there was no radiographic evidence of active DJD and the DJD has progressed to a more stable form since 2010.