What is the initial outpatient therapy for TMJ syndrome?

Updated: Jun 02, 2020
  • Author: Vivian Tsai, MD, MPH, FACEP; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Outpatient therapies for temporomandicular joint (TMJ) syndrome should begin with conservative measures and become more invasive when other options have been exhausted. Initial treatment may include the following:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants
  • Patients should eat a soft diet, and avoid habits such as excessive gum chewing. Warm and cold compresses should be used at night along with gentle massage of the TMJ area. Patients need to avoid jaw clenching and teeth grinding if possible.

  • If conservative therapies fail, or for severe acute exacerbations, intra-articular injection of local anesthetics or steroids may be used for TMJ syndrome. However, repeated intra-articular injections are not recommended.

  • Dental splints can be used to keep the jaw more properly aligned. They also help limit nocturnal bruxism and teeth grinding.

  • Some patients also find benefit from ultrasonic therapy. This provides deep heat to the area of tenderness and may alleviate some patients' symptoms. High-voltage electrogalvanic stimulation is sometimes used to reduce muscle spasms.

  • Low-intensity laser therapy has been investigated as a form of therapy, and it has been shown to reduce pain in TMJ syndrome. [19]

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