The temporomandibular joint is responsible for connecting your jaw to your skull, and allowing for multiple ranges of movement. Much like other joints in your body, it can become injured either temporarily or chronically, referred to by clinicians as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ. Although there is not yet a medical consensus for what causes TMJ, teeth grinding (bruxism), stress, excessive gum chewing, and arthritis could be to blame. Depending of the severity of damage caused to the joint, symptoms could be far-reaching and detrimental to your quality of life.
While some TMJ sufferers experience the more common symptoms like jaw pain or reduced mobility, others experience frequent headaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or neck pain. Because these symptoms can become incredibly severe, patients often search for treatments that claim to work immediately with little side-effects. This is what has been driving some to consider Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) injections.
What Are PRP Injections?
Platelet activation within the blood is believed to play a role in the body’s healing process, so the idea behind platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy is to use concentrated injections of the patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. To collect the platelets, blood is drawn from a patient into a centrifuge which removes red blood cells then returns the blood to the body. This concentration of platelets is then injected into the site of injury. PRP has traditionally been used to treat chronic tendinitis, osteoarthritis, and various other joint injuries. Hard evidence arguing for the effectiveness of PRP therapy is poor, however.
Can PRP Injections Treat TMJ?
A study published in the Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery put this exact question to the test in a series of experiments comparing PRP treatment to hyaluronic acid injections, which is a form of joint lubrication used primarily to provide temporary relief from knee pain. What the research found was that patients given PRP injections at six and twelve months had better results than those who received hyaluronic acid injections. Although these results appear to imply PRP injections may be a viable treatment, very few studies have been done to support this claim. TMJ is an umbrella term that could point to tissue damage, which may be helped by PRP, but also anatomic displacement represented by clicking noises when eating.
What to Try First
Unfortunately, PRP injections could cost patients upwards of $1,000 per treatment and aren’t covered by most insurance. At that price tag, with no real evidence supporting its efficacy, seeking alternative treatments beforehand makes the most sense. If you’ve been suffering from TMJ symptoms for awhile, scheduling a consultation with a TMJ dentist could help. They could provide time-tested treatments that require no injections of any kind.
If you know or suspect that you have TMJ and are looking for treatment in the Wichita Falls, TX area, please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment with an expert TMJ dentist at StarImage Dentistry. We utilize proven neuromuscular dentistry to provide relief from a wide range of TMJ symptoms.