Temporomandibular disorder, TMD, is a complex pain syndrome that affects millions of adults each year. For many, the complication leads to the need for management of chronic pain using prescription medications that often result in other secondary health complications. For this reason, many TMD sufferers seek out additional methods for treating this chronic pain syndrome around the jaw line.
If you live with TMD, it is important to stay abreast of the latest developments in treating temporomandibular disorder. As a musculoskeletal disorder, there may be times when you mistake the pain of the jaw as a general toothache. However, because TMD is far more complex, many dentists struggle to offer treatment or advice and may, therefore, make a referral to a specialist in joint disorders. One of type of treatment that has grown in popularity involves the use of laser therapy, a very common procedure found in dermatology offices and within medi-spas.
When considering the options for managing chronic pain associated with TMD, laser therapy may be a viable option. While not a cure for temporomandibular disorder, laser therapy does provide some relief from the pain associated with TMD and, ultimately, may improve your ability to chew and move the jaw line as normally as possible. If you wear dentures, or if you are in need of periodontal treatment, the use of laser therapy to treat the chronic pain of TMD may not be appropriate. Be certain, therefore, that your doctor knows these are health risks so other forms of chronic pain management can be considered.
With laser therapy, as a form of TMD treatment, you should expect the procedure will be relatively simple. Applying the laser to five key points around the jaw line every couple of days, most TMD patients find marked improvement in their chronic pain within about four weeks of treatment. Because this form of TMD treatment is not considered commonplace, many insurance companies are hesitant to approve it but may consider a therapy prescription provided it is limited to a four week period. Be certain you make appeals to your insurance company should any denial for pre-certification become an issue.
TMD is a complex musculoskeletal disorder that affects adults especially those who are aging with pre-existing musculoskeletal health complications. If you have been diagnosed with temporomandibular disorder, be certain you ask your doctor about the option to consider laser therapy and, if an option approved by your physician, plan to undergo treatment for as long as four weeks as this is the time expected to achieve some form of pain relief in a laser therapy program.
Sources: Peer Journal, “Journal of Oral Rehabilitation”, 2005; 32: 802-803. Peer Journal, “Physiotherapy 1991; 77:164-166.