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?
Chronic pain is simply pain that lasts longer than the expected period of healing. How long? Doctors don’t have a unified opinion.
There are few successful treatments for chronic pain. While some doctors prescribe opioids for chronic pain, many patients find that opioids only worsen their pain. The risk of prescription drug abuse skyrockets when doctors prescribe them for chronic pain. Often, doctors just recommend therapy 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
Most cases of TMJ don’t need professional care. At-home treatments for pain can help give your body the relief it needs to heal.
Over-the-counter pain medications can reduce the severity of pain. Studies have also 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.
However, these treatments usually provide only temporary relief from pain. They don’t treat the underlying condition. If pain persists for more than week, doesn’t respond or worsens under home care, or recurs, seek professional care.