What types of treatment are there for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain?
The temporomandibular joint is the only mobile joint we have in the face, it is located just in front of the pinna at the top of the jaw and is the joint that with its movement allows us to play the jaw, the opening-closing movement and the rest of the movements of this bone. In our practice we see many patients who come to us with pain and other joint symptoms. Each patient is a different world, we cannot put in the same category all these patients who have these symptoms of noises, pain or joint blockage. Consequently, there is also no single treatment for treating joint problems. There is a staggered range of procedures that we will apply in a differentiated manner according to the precise diagnosis of each patient and the stage of his or her disease. From simple non-invasive techniques such as an unloading splint or physiotherapy treatments, through minimally invasive surgical techniques such as arthrocentesis or the use of growth factors or arthroscopy, to open joint surgery techniques, including joint replacement techniques.
Can minimally invasive techniques be used for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain?
In some patients we combine two minimally invasive surgical techniques. One of them is the arthrocentesis, a well-known technique which aims to wash the articular cavity, with a Ringer’s solution what we do is to wash the temporomandibular joint eliminating the possible catabolites that appear there and also achieving the elimination of some flanges, of some adhesions that appear in the joint. We combine this technique with the use of growth factors also known as plasma rich in growth factors.
What is the treatment with growth factors for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain?
Plasma rich in growth factors is a totally autologous product, that is to say, it is a natural product in which we do not use any material foreign to the patient. It has a very simple technique for obtaining it; we extract a couple of small tubes of blood from the patient to which a very specific centrifugation technique is applied. With this technique we obtain tubes in which we obtain differentiated blood fractions. One of these blood fractions contains a high number of platelets and these platelets in turn, will release for a certain time what we know as growth factors. These growth factors allow a faster healing of tissues and a better healing of wounds and scars.
Is it necessary to use anesthesia to perform the treatment?
When we combine arthrocentesis treatment with infiltration with growth factors, we usually do it with local anesthesia and mild intravenous sedation. In any case, the procedure is an outpatient procedure and the advantage of doing it with sedation is that it improves the patient’s comfort and perception of the procedure. In any case, if any patient wishes to do it with local anesthesia there is no technical inconvenience to do it with pure local anesthesia.
How effective is the application of growth factors for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain?
Growth factors have been used for some time now in other joints of the body and are being used especially in many elite athletes. They have already proven useful in muscle injuries, tendon injuries and cartilage injuries, accelerating healing and improving rehabilitation in these types of patients.