Quite often patients come to the office in terrible pain. They have been suffering from TMD related muscle and/or joint pain for so long that they have difficulty functioning normally. They suffer from headaches, claudication (cramping) of the jaw muscles and/or pain in the TMJ. At the Initial Evaluation exam, the doctor will determine if Diagnostic Nerve Block Injections is an option for the patient in order to figure the source of their pain.
Usually the patients will be put through a week of treatment to determine if they will get better through home therapy, but sometimes the pain the patient is experiencing will prevent them from even trying the home therapy. Other times the home therapy will have not been successful and the patient returns to our office for a post-op visit still in distress.
This is when Diagnostic Nerve Block Injections will be recommended. Even thought this is a therapy and sometime will give patients immediate relief from their symptoms, it can only be considered diagnostic, because it has a limited long term effectiveness. If the source of the pain is still present, and it usually has not yet been addressed, the pain will return.
There are three nerves that dentists can block with anesthetic that are external and not in the mouth, the Greater Occipital, the Greater Auricular and the Auriculotemporal Nerve. Each nerve is superficial and is easy and painless to inject. Each injection will block sensory impulses that govern a particular part of the head and neck. The doctors will get a sense from history, exam and possible initial therapy the most likely origin of the pain. Injecting local anesthetic around the affected nerve that governs that pain source will provide varying amounts of relief and help to determine the true source of the patient’s pain.
Sometimes the pain has become chronic and the pain is driven by the Sympathetic Nervous System. Blocking the Greater Auricular Nerve can shut off the Sympathetic Cervical Plexus and provide immediate relief. This is informative in helping us to determine how best to treat each patient.
Please ask us more about this therapy and if it can be used in your treatment.