At-Home Medications and Risks
For many people, over-the-counter medications are possibly the first stop when it comes to treating TMJ at home. People usually rely on one or two classes of medications for home relief.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is probably the most commonly used at-home pain reliever. It is effective at controlling pain for many people. Since it doesn’t address inflammation, it may be less effective at reducing future outbreaks.
It’s also important to note that acetaminophen overuse can be toxic. About 50,000 people a year go to the hospital because of acetaminophen overuse. Make sure you follow the label instructions and only exceed the dose if cleared by a doctor.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are another class of commonly used medications at home. The two most commonly used types of NSAIDs are ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). These drugs control swelling and reduce pain, which can make them ideal if you have swelling that contributes to your symptoms.
However, NSAIDs can be toxic, especially when used too frequently. A recent study found that 15% of people taking these drugs take too much, which can lead to serious stomach damage, liver damage, and even heart problems up to and including heart attack.
Rely on a home care protocol for only a short period before seeking professional help.
Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help control TMJ symptoms. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications sometimes help with TMJ. Tricyclic antidepressants can reduce your body’s sensitivity to pain signals. However, they are also mood-altering, which can be bad. However, since other types of antidepressants, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), can contribute to bruxism, people sometimes switch medications to help with TMJ symptoms. Anti-anxiety medications can help if anxiety contributes to your TMJ.
Muscle relaxants are also used to control TMJ symptoms. However, the side effects can be serious. Many people can’t work, drive, or do other daily tasks while taking them. Plus, they can lead to dependendence. This makes them good for control of flare-ups, but a poor choice for long-term care.
Opioids are sometimes used for TMJ and other chronic pain conditions. However, the risk of dependence and overdose means these are falling out of favor.
Sometimes, injectable medications are used to control TMJ. Corticosteroids were the most common injection used in the past. This helps control inflammation and pain.
Recently, botox injections have grown in popularity to help with the condition. Botox works by relaxing your jaw muscles. Getting regular injections every 3-6 months can keep overactive muscles under control. However, we aren’t sure about the long-term impact of this type of treatment.
TMJ Treatment with Less Medication in Fort Atkinson
Are you looking to treat your TMJ without drugs? At the very least, our approach to TMJ treatment can help you reduce the amount of medication you need. For many people, it offers adequate relief without any drugs.
To learn how our approach might be able to help you, please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment with Dr. Stafford at Bite Align, serving patients from across Jefferson County at our office in Fort Atkinson.