First declared in 2001, National Pain Awareness Month is an effort by the American Chronic Pain Association to raise awareness about the widespread and devastating effects of chronic pain. Despite how common chronic pain is (1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from the condition), medical professionals are still struggling to identify effective methods of treatment.
What is Chronic Pain?
The exact time frame that separates acute pain from chronic pain is a source of some disagreement in medical circles, but at its heart, chronic pain is simply pain that lasts longer than the expected period of healing.
While some chronic pain can be treated with opioids, other patients find that opioids only worsen their pain, and the risk of prescription drug abuse skyrockets when these kinds of medications are prescribed. In fact, chronic pain is so difficult to treat that some of the leading treatments are really just therapy intended to counsel patients through living with chronic pain.
Many With TMJ Suffer From Chronic Pain
There are countless factors that can trigger chronic pain, and one of those factors is temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. Although TMJ has many symptoms, pain is by far the most common symptom of the disorder. That pain could be caused by anything from bruxism or a bad bite to trauma or stress, or some combination thereof. For this reason, many TMJ patients experience chronic pain as an ongoing symptom of the disorder.
Luckily, out of all of the sources of chronic pain, TMJ may actually be one of the more desirable ones… because it’s treatable. While the pain itself can be incredibly difficult to treat, the source of that pain is something an experienced TMJ dentist like Dr. Kevin Berry can have an impact on. Using the principles of neuromuscular dentistry, jaw pain can be treated effectively and without opioids.
Managing TMJ-Related Pain At Home
TMJ can’t be treated effectively at home — you need an experienced medical professional to prevent further damage to the fragile and complex joints of your jaw. But at-home treatments for pain can help give your body the relief it needs to heal and benefit from your professional treatment.
For example, studies have shown that yoga and meditation can reduce stress and the effects of chronic pain when practiced regularly. And depending on what’s causing your orofacial pain, hot or cold compresses can reduce pain and inflammation temporarily.
In the end, the most effective way to treat chronic pain related to TMJ is to treat TMJ. By correcting the tension and misalignment in the jaw that creates tension, with the help of an experienced TMJ dentist, you can reduce your pain, protect your temporomandibular joints from continued damage, and lessen or even eliminate the negative symptoms that accompany the disorder.