One of the biggest misconceptions this practice sees with new patients is that they have been told they have “TMJ.” What is TMJ?
This term has become the catch acronym of any undiagnosed problem of facial pain, jaw pain or popping jaw. Fortunately, the TMJ is not a disease process, but an anatomical part of the body. Patients have been led to believe; however, that the source of their problem is the joint. In truth, health care professionals, for the most part, who tell their patients they have “TMJ” are really telling their patients that they do not know what the problem is.
What is TMJ? TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint. These are the two jaw joints that function in opening, closing, talking and chewing. These functions are very specialized and when trauma is inflicted on the joint(s) the damage can be severe. TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorder. The doctors at TMJ Treatment Atlanta use this term to describe the pain that patients experience in the head and neck, because until they have a diagnosis they do not know if the source of the pain is truly the joint(s) or something else. The doctors tend to refer to management of this problem as TMJ treatment or TMD treatment. TMJ treatment refers to specific management of a popping jaw and TMD management usually refers to management of facial pain, jaw pain and neck pain. Other sources of pain in the head and neck can be from nerve pain, cervical neck degeneration or pain from a neoplasm. The pain experienced can be an achy, throbbing, sharp, stabbing, crushing or burning pain. Pain type and intensity quite often helps to narrow the suspected sources of the pain.
There are usually multiple factors that go into the pain patterns of most patients. This practice’s goal is to help our patients figure out what are the sources of the problem and to do the best to give them relief if pain is the overriding problem the patient is facing. If the pain is not within the scope of the doctors ability to treat, they will be able to refer the patient to a practitioner who can treat their problem.