What is Jaw Arthritis? Arthritis is inflammation of joints. This includes the whole of the body joints. THE JAW, which consists of the temporomandibular joint, can also be a victim of arthritis.
We have a related article for you, you can read How Can Arthritis Be Diagnosed?
Is Jaw Arthritis A Thing? What Is Jaw Arthritis?
It might be unexpected to think that arthritis can affect your jaw, but it’s not as uncommon as you think; it affects around 10 million Americans. Arthritis is usually heard to attack the knees, elbows, and hands, but it can involve any joint of the body.
Arthritis of the Jaw might be a reason for your jaw pain, stiffness, and limited jaw mobility.
This is incorrectly known as TMJ or temporomandibular joint, although it’s not the name of the disease but the name of the joint involved. The temporomandibular joint is one of the most complex joints of our body because it produces not one but two movements, i.e., sliding and hinge movements.
It connects your jaw to the skull. You can get arthritis of the jaw, which is rare but still does happen. It can also affect the muscle on the side of your face. This can also cause pain and decreased movement of the jaw.
Curing Jaw Arthritis:
To treat jaw arthritis, it’s essential to know the type of arthritis the patient is suffering from or whether he has been diagnosed already and now the jaw is involved.
The types of arthritis the jaw can suffer are the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
According to a study conducted in 2014, osteoarthritis of the joint affects 8%-16% of the world population, and it affects women more than men. Osteoarthritis can affect the single side or both sides.
Different type of arthritis requires different treatments. Jaw arthritis can range from mild to severe, and the type of treatment varies with it.
Before treating Jaw arthritis, medical history and clinical examination, along with some essential investigations, has to be done:
- X-ray TMJ
- Ct scan to get your bones and joint issues in detail.
- MRI to see the structural abnormality if present.
If you have joint pain, it will be good to see your doctor or dentist as soon as possible. The earlier it’s diagnosed, the earlier it’s treated, and the better will be the prognosis.
Goals and aim of Treatment:
- Slow down further TMJ damage
- Management of pain
- Enhance or at least maintain the jaw functions.
Treatment of arthritis can be done and managed in several ways like:
- Lifestyle modifications
- Home remedies
- Medical therapy
- Physical therapy
It’s not a treatable disease. It has to be managed as once the disc erodes, there is no treatment available to restore it so the best available options will be the non-invasive techniques.
- Lifestyle modifications:
- Eliminate stress-causing factors:
Stress-relieving exercises can be done to reduce Jaw clenching; this could be achieved through yoga, meditation, and journaling.
- Intake of soft food:
Try eating soft food which is less chewable because chewable or hard food can be stressful for your joint as they need more chewing, so more joint movement can cause joint pain. Some foods to avoid are chewing gums, beef, apples, and corn on the cob.
- Minimal intake of caffeine:
Although caffeine has many benefits and is incorporated into our daily life, intake of it, especially in excessive amounts, may cause increased muscle tension. If you are massive caffeine in takers, you can reduce it over periods and may notice a decrease in pain. There might be a rebound muscle tension at the start, but it will go away too slowly.
- Give jaw rest:
Minimize its use. Avoid opening your mouth wide or eating chewy foods.
- Home remedies:
- Applying ice or heat pad:
It depends upon an individual. For some people, the numbing effect of ice can be practical, or a heating pad can relieve muscle tension.
- Improve your oral hygiene.
- Stop putting strain on jaw:
Don’t chew chewing gums or bite your nails.
- Arthritis pain cream:
The arthritis pain cream can be effective, or any other balm can be applied to sore areas to relieve pain temporarily.
- Medical treatment:
It will mostly try to treat your pain and inflammation without any medications and surgery through lifestyle modifications. Later on, as the disease is expected to progress, the pain increases, needing medicines to make it better.
- Muscle relaxant:
Most of the pain comes from sore and tight muscles; these will relieve the tension in the jaw.
- Mouth guard:
The mouth guard is a plastic dental protector worn on the upper jaw or lower jaw teeth; it’s usually made according to the size and shape of the teeth. A good fit is necessary; they are usually custom-made rather than just buying from the pharmacy; this will help you not clench your teeth while sleeping to avoid unnecessary strain.
- Botox injections:
It’s a not-so-invasive procedure in which the Botulinum toxin is injected to a desired point on the face. They last for months and help reduce tension in the muscle and nocturnal clenching.
- Non-steroidal inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS:
NSAIDs Can be given to decrease the inflammation making symptoms better.
- Steroid injections:
Steroid injections can be given in the joint to improve inflammation. Usually, cortisone is used to inject the joint.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDs:
DMARDS are the mainstay treatment of arthritis and can improve the symptoms of arthritis in the entire body.
- Hyaluronic acid injections
- Topical Ointments
- Physical therapy
- Jaw exercises can be done to reduce the strain and improve movement. This will also strengthen your muscles.
- Acupuncture for pain relief
- Relaxation exercises will help you if you clench your teeth when you are anxious. Such exercises make you calm and teach you to hold on to yourself. These can be pretty helpful in case of chronic pain in the joint.
- Massaging: massaging your jaw muscles will also remove tension and strain. It will also promote more blood so faster healing.
- Invasive Procedure:
- Pulsed electrical stimulations
Surgery is the last option, specifically if pain and other symptoms persist due to any structural abnormality. It is only done when all other treatment options fail.
One of the new and less invasive surgeries is “Arthroscopy with arthrocentesis”; this procedure successfully manages symptoms in around 70%-86% of patients.
- One or two holes are made above the TMJ.
- The arthroscope, which is a light camera, is passed through to examine the joint, then other tools are inserted and
- Scar tissue is removed.
- The joint is reshaped.
- Swelling decreases.
- Then arthrocentesis is done by injecting fluid into joint space. This will help out in washing waste and chemical substances of inflammation. This will also help in increasing the motion range of joints.
Open surgery is the last option if no other treatment works, followed by joint replacement.
What can be done if the pain starts suddenly and its intensity keeps increasing?
For immediate relief following steps can be taken.
- Apply a hot or cold ice pack, the ice (Don’t apply it directly, wrap it up in a cloth and apply for a maximum of 10 minutes and reapply as many times as desired) numbs the area, and hot packs relax the strain.
- Pain killers: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can counter the pain and discomfort.
- Massage: Using your fingers, press the painful areas and gently massage them in circular motions for a few seconds; repeat the process by opening your mouth. You may also massage the side of your neck as all muscles are interlinked and may help relieve the tension and strain.
Although people are unaware of jaw arthritis, it doesn’t make it a rare or uncommon disease. It happens, and it’s a fairly common condition. Three types of arthritis can occur; Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. First, this arthritis needs to be treated systemically, and localized treatments s to be done.
Also, make sure to check out my post on What Arthritis Medications Cause Hair Loss?
The earlier the diagnosis, the better will be the prognosis. The reason is arthritis is inflammation of the joint, and the joint losses its disc or connective tissue. Right now, there is no practical way through which the disc or connective tissue can be restored. The symptoms can be delayed or treated promptly.
Conservative management is the first action against arthritis, but as soon as the pain becomes unbearable and the symptoms worsen, one might need outstanding medical care. Medical or surgical treatment is also required when the pain starts interfering with daily activities.