30 Apr A Unique Approach For a Challenging Condition
Jaw pain, facial pain, TMJ problems, jaw-related ear pain, and jaw-related headaches are a complicated and confusing area of healthcare. These problems are as confusing for doctors as they are for patients. The reason for the confusion is that there can be a multitude of causes for what appears to be the same condition.
The challenge, therefore, is to identify not just a proper diagnosis, but also all the potential causes or contributing factors that brought about the disorder or symptoms. Dr. Harrell recommends a treatment plan only after he has investigated all possible causes for a particular condition. In addition, the patient is given a definitive diagnosis before any treatment is recommended.
- Each patient completes a comprehensive questionnaire regarding all potential symptoms and causes
- A state-of-the-art specialized 3-D CAT scan, to obtain the best possible imaging of the jaw and related structures
- A thorough interview, to ensure that we understand all of the patient’s concerns
- A comprehensive examination of the head, neck, and oral regions
- A formal consultation with the patient and family regarding the findings, the diagnosis, the causes, and an appropriate treatment plan
- Prior to starting treatment, Dr. Harrell dictates a detailed report that is sent to the patient, as well as other involved doctors
How are TMJ problems treated?
Depending on the diagnosis, treatment may vary from simply instructing the patient in ways they can avoid symptoms, to a plan involving many different types of treatment performed by several different clinicians working as a team. Possible treatment methods include the following:
- Instruction in avoidance of harmful habits
- A jaw splint or mouth guard to relieve muscle or joint pain
- A brief course of muscle relaxant or anti-inflammatory medication
- Referral to a specialized jaw physical therapist
- Attending a class on jaw disorders
- Supplements to guard against bone loss in damaged jaw joints
- Training in improving sleep quality
- Topical medication to relieve joint or muscle pain
- Therapeutic jaw exercises
- Laser treatment to relieve joint or muscle pain
- Analysis and treatment of bite problems that may be causing symptoms
- Work or sports restrictions
- Reading a self-help book on TMJ problems
- Procedures to unlock dislocated jaw joints
- Referral to a chronic pain therapist
- Referral to a stress-management program
- Headache medication
- Treatment for nerve damage (neuropathy) pain
- A lavage of the jaw joint to relieve pain, and improve movement
Another unique feature of Dr. Harrell’s practice is that he recommends non-invasive and reversible treatment. Surgery or dental work on the teeth is rarely necessary to manage these problems. He works closely with physicians, physical therapists, and dentists, to ensure the optimum treatment outcome for each patient. He believes in providing only the essential treatment necessary for long-term results.
The reason for much of the confusion about jaw problems, as well as poor treatment success, is a lack of a definitive diagnosis, as well as a failure to identify all the causes of all the symptoms. With the busy practices most doctors have, they are not equipped to take the time necessary to discover this critical information. Too often, the mindset is “You’ve got jaw pain, let’s try this.” The treatment recommended often reflects the training of the clinician you are seeing. A physician may write a prescription, a chiropractor will try manipulating something, and a dentist may recommend some treatment on the teeth, or a piece of plastic to be worn on the teeth. In other words, in too many cases, the treatment is determined by the type of doctor the patient chooses to go to for help.
Our office is dedicated to taking the time necessary to understand the needs of each individual patient, and to make a definitive diagnosis before treatment is recommended. To assist in this diagnostic effort, we utilize the best methods and technical equipment available today. This includes a state-of-the-art Cat Scan (CT) that is specialized for focusing on the jaw structures. This equipment uses much less radiation than medical CT’s found in hospitals. It provides us with a very detailed picture of the jaw bone structures and associated tissues.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation where we can go over treatment and payment options!