There’s no doubt that medicine has changed dramatically in recent years. In some ways, it has improved considerably, with medical imaging technology giving us great insight into medical conditions. It has helped the diagnosis of TMJ considerably in our office.
But at the same time, there have arguably been some declines in medical techniques that might diminish the effectiveness of modern medical treatments. In particular, some doctors express concern that the profession as a whole has become more clinically lazy. Since TMJ diagnosis depends on a proper physical exam, and What Your Family Doctor Is Taught about TMJ, it’s likely that this could lead to fewer proper TMJ diagnoses.
Why Doctors Aren’t As Good As They Used to Be
So, why are doctors concerned that the profession is losing vital skills? The issue was addressed in an interview with Dr. Fabrizia Faustinella, MD, PHD. Dr. Faustinella has noticed that doctors seem less inclined to do physical exams. As a case in point, she told of a patient who had been presented to her from the ED as a “fever of unknown origin.” In performing an exam, the reason for the fever became clear with just a glance. When she asked why the origin of the fever hadn’t been detected, the resident doctor said they hadn’t even turned the light on during the patient exam. Another case she brought up involved a man who complained of chest pain that was actually a skin rash. But doctors didn’t look at his skin and ordered an electrocardiogram (ECG), and the tech saw the skin rash while attaching the leads for the ECG (which turned out to be normal).
Dr. Faustinella blames several reasons for the causes. First, she says that doctors rely too much on data and imaging. Although some scans can give us answers that can be harder to get through a physical exam. She also says that doctors are spending too much time on the computer, and not enough time actually at bedside working with patients.
The Importance of Physical Exams in Diagnosing TMJ
New diagnostic criteria designed to provide uniform TMJ diagnosis standards emphasize the use of physical exams as well as extensive medical history questionnaires to determine the existence of TMJ. Doctors are supposed to perform the full exam to detect the presence of TMJ and help determine its nature.
This doesn’t mean that medical imaging isn’t important. In fact, the criteria also talk about the critical role that CT or MRI scans can play in identifying TMJ. But without the physical exam, a positive TMJ diagnosis isn’t considered reliable.
If primary care doctors aren’t performing these physical exams, they are more likely to miss TMJ as a potential cause for headaches and other symptoms.
See a Neuromuscular Dentist
If you want to get a reliable diagnosis of whether TMJ is responsible for your symptoms in Denver, a neuromuscular dentist has the skills to perform an appropriate exam, as well as the tools to ensure the accuracy of their diagnoses.