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What Are the Pros and Cons of Arthrocentesis for TMJ?

Arthrocentesis for TMJ offers swift relief from jaw pain and improved mobility, with minimal invasiveness and quick recovery. However, it may not address underlying causes and carries risks like infection or nerve damage. Considering the balance between immediate comfort and potential complications is crucial. How might this procedure fit into your long-term TMJ management plan? Let's explore further.
Jennifer Long
Jennifer Long

Arthrocentesis for the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a minor surgical procedure that is used when other non-surgical jaw joint treatments have been unsuccessful. The procedure can be beneficial for the disorder by reducing inflammation, removing joint space scarring, and improving jaw mobility. If the cartilage disc in the jaw has shifted, this procedure can also help put the disc back in its proper position. Drawbacks of an arthrocentesis procedure include pain and discomfort following the procedure as well as the possibility of complications such as muscle weakness, uncontrolled bleeding, and ear problems.

TMJ disorder affects the joint region of the jaw. It causes issues with the movement of the upper and lower sections of the joint. Standard treatments for TMJ include splints or mouth guards to correct misalignments and physical therapy to improve movement. When doctors do not see improvement through standard treatments, arthrocentesis for TMJ is often recommended.

A person with TMJ.
A person with TMJ.

There are many potential benefits to arthrocentesis for TMJ. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, often in the doctor’s office, which reduces costs that would accrue with a hospital stay. It involves two hypodermic needles placed into the problematic jaw joint. Sterile saline flows into the joint through one needle and out the other needle. This flushing can help in the removal of chemicals that cause inflammation and scar tissue that may be present in the joint cavity and also assist in repositioning a cartilage disc that may be out of position.

A splint may be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth for people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and bruxism.
A splint may be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth for people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and bruxism.

Benefits of arthrocentesis for TMJ also include reducing pressure and relieving pain. Pressure can occur due to inflammation, and pain can be experienced as a result of many symptoms, such as inflammation or a slipped disc. Many patients experience long-term relief from repairing the cause of symptoms. Some patients, however, may experience only temporary relief.

Temporal mandibular joint dysfunction causes jaw pain and discomfort.
Temporal mandibular joint dysfunction causes jaw pain and discomfort.

Although arthrocentesis for TMJ is beneficial to most patients, it also has some potential drawbacks. The symptoms experienced by many patients following the procedure are a common downside. Patients can expect the area of the treated joint to be sore and uncomfortable. Minor swelling is also possible. Stiffness can occur, causing complete function of the joint to be temporarily limited.

Arthrocentesis can help TMJ  patients avoid a long and expensive hospital stay.
Arthrocentesis can help TMJ patients avoid a long and expensive hospital stay.

Potential complications that can occur with arthrocentesis for TMJ include weakness of the facial nerve, inflammation of the ear canal or rupturing of the ear drum, and uncontrollable bleeding in the joint. The facial muscle can be weakened if the facial nerve is injured during the procedure. Ear symptoms are often experienced due to the close proximity of the parts of the ear to the jaw joint. If uncontrolled bleeding occurs, immediate surgery is often required to repair the problem.

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    • A person with TMJ.
      By: sakura
      A person with TMJ.
    • A splint may be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth for people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and bruxism.
      By: conejota
      A splint may be worn at night to prevent damage to teeth for people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and bruxism.
    • Temporal mandibular joint dysfunction causes jaw pain and discomfort.
      By: Yoanna Boyadzhieva
      Temporal mandibular joint dysfunction causes jaw pain and discomfort.
    • Arthrocentesis can help TMJ  patients avoid a long and expensive hospital stay.
      By: Trish23
      Arthrocentesis can help TMJ patients avoid a long and expensive hospital stay.
    • Jaw clenching associated with TMJ may occur during sleep.
      By: Valua Vitaly
      Jaw clenching associated with TMJ may occur during sleep.