While trauma to the jaw as a result of an accident is a leading cause of TMD, there are many diseases and conditions that can also affect the TM joints. Patients who have Lyme disease, Psoriatic arthritis or Lupus, for example, may experience joint inflammation, swelling, stiffness and pain in around the TMJ. A thorough examination can determine if one of these conditions is causing your TMJ pain.
Lyme disease is an infectious disease that can affect many joints in the body, primarily the knee. Patients who contract Lyme disease, however, may also experience TMJ pain, ear pain, a stiff neck and impaired masticatory muscles. A skin rash will often appear near and around the tick bite. The rash is often presumed to be another dermatological condition. After a few weeks the diameter of the rash will increase up to 50 mm and resemble a bulls-eye.
Lyme disease may cause the following symptoms:
In 2010, more than 22,500 Lyme disease cases were confirmed in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease. People who work outdoors in the northeastern and north-central part of the United States are most at risk of exposure. The highest number of confirmed cases were reported from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, and Maine, according to the CDC.
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics if started early enough.
Psoriatic arthritis (PA) is a form of arthritis and can affect one or more joints in the body. The TMJ can be one of the first joints involved in PA.
It most often affects people who have the skin condition psoriasis. About 15 percent of patients who have psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, according to the American College of Rheumatology.
The immune system in those who have psoriatic arthritis attacks the healthy cells and tissues in the body. This autoimmune response increases inflammation in the joints and results in overproduction of skin cells.
The cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown; however, heredity or an autoimmune disorder may play a role. A cure for psoriatic arthritis does not exist, but symptoms can be controlled to prevent further damage to joints.
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the membrane surrounding the joints in the body. It can cause painful swelling, bone deterioration and joint deformity.
The joints in the fingers, hands, toes and feet are often the first to be affected by Rheumatoid arthritis. As the condition progresses, it can spread to the knees, ankles, hips and shoulders.
It can also affect the TMJ, resulting in a limited range of motion of the jaw and popping, clicking, scraping or grinding sounds during opening and closing of the mouth. In severe cases of Rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosis (fusion of the jaw joint) can occur.
Diagnosing arthritis of the TM joint requires laboratory studies of your blood and examining the range of motion of the jaw and visualizing the condition of the joint using x-rays, CTs and MRI images. A minimally invasive surgical procedure called Arthroscopy may also be used to evaluate the TMJ.
Treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis often involves managing the symptoms of pain and discomfort. Patients with Rheumatoid arthritis are advised to eat a soft diet and apply moist heat packs to painful areas to prevent and relieve pain. Splints, pharmacological management, physical therapy involving jaw exercises and stress management can also reduce symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis.
Steroid injections may also be used to treat arthritis in the TM joint. Washing out the TMJ using a procedure called arthrocentesis may also provide some relief. In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair joints damaged by Rheumatoid arthritis.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can damage the skin, joints and organs inside the body.
Recent research estimates show that more than 1.5 million Americans and 5 million people throughout the world have Lupus. TMD has been documented in up to 60 percent of Lupus patients, according to Lupus.org.
Lupus arthritis is not as debilitating as rheumatoid arthritis and less likely to cause severe damage to the temporomandibular joints and other joints in the body. Lupus arthritis is treated by controlling the symptoms of joint pain and inflammation throught medication.
Lupus is sometimes called "the great imitator" because its symptoms are similar to those found in rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, fibromyalgia, diabetes, thyroid problems, Lyme disease and many heart, lung, muscle, and bone diseases. It's because of this that Lupus is a difficult disease to diagnose.
The most common symptoms of Lupus are:
Ehler’s Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of hereditary connective tissue disorders. People with Ehler’s Danlos have fragile skin and unstable joints because of faulty collagen, a protein in the body that adds strength and elasticity to connective tissue.
Patients with EDS often describe being called “double jointed,” because they can bend their fingers back far enough to touch the top of their hand or wrist.
EDS affects 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 5,000 people both male and female of all racial and ethnic background, according to the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation.
Symptoms of EDS are often times joint and skin related