TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, the joint located on either side of the jaw where the skull meets the lower jawbone or mandible. Sometimes, this joint can become irritated or inflamed, resulting in painful symptoms when chewing, talking or even yawning. People with TMJ disorder often have chronic jaw pain and headaches as a result of the inflammation, which can cause uneven and continual stress and strain on the joint. In some cases, normal range of motion in the joint can also be diminished.
TMJ joint blocks are injections of medications designed to reduce inflammation and irritation in the temporomandibular joint. These injections can be performed right in the office in less than a half hour on an outpatient basis. TMJ injections can be very effective in relieving painful symptoms as well as relieving the underlying inflammation in the joint. Injections can be repeated to provide long-term relief when needed.
TMJ injections are performed in the office using a local anesthetic to numb the injection site, sometimes combined with mild sedation to help the patient relax and stay comfortable. During the procedure, the injection sites are cleansed and the medications are administered to each jaw joint. In addition to anti-inflammatory medications, BOTOX or other medications can also be used, depending on the patient’s specific symptoms. When BOTOX is used, it acts to block nerve signals that cause the jaw joints to spasm and contract so painful symptoms are relieved. Once the injections are complete, the patient will need to sit in an upright position for an hour to ensure the medication remains in the joint while it takes effect. Most patients find relief from symptoms within a day or two of the procedure, but in some patients, it may take up to a week to see the effects.