Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) surgery is usually recommended in patients whose jaw joint symptoms impede the normal functions of the jaw or where the jaw gets locked or stuck while yawning, talking or eating and other forms of TMJ treatment have failed. Surgical procedures such as arthrocentesis, which entails removal of joint fluid, are usually performed for TMJ symptoms and treatment. Arthroscopic surgery may also be performed where the scar tissue in the joint is removed or flushed. The aftermath of these surgical procedures is pain and swelling. In addition, mouth opening is also limited. Here are a few things you need to do to take care of yourself as you recover from TMJ surgery.
Take care of yourself
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Taking good care of yourself as you recover from your surgical TMJ disorder treatment is of paramount importance. There are many ways to do this. They include the following:
- Get fresh air daily – Although you may be experiencing pain after your surgery, you will do well to get some fresh air.
- Keep a journal mainly on the pain – You can download resources to help you do this effectively on the internet.
- Consider doing yoga – Join a support group online where you can vent, chat, share or ask questions.
- Ask loved ones who are empathizing with you to accompany you to your support center and meet other patients
- Have all the tools you require during recovery such as ice packs, heating pad, pillows, bandages, straws and frozen smoothies.
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Keeping yourself entertained helps to carry you through the day as you divert your attention from the source of pain to things that are more exciting. Some of the ways to entertain yourself include:
- Playing classic board games with children
- Watching your favorite TV series or classic movies
- Letting kids read to you. This also makes them feel involved
- You can also read books
- Spend some time on the internet
- Downloading your favorite jams
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The fact that you are recovering from TMJ pain treatment does not mean that you cannot do anything constructive. In fact, you can be productive in the following ways.
- Rid yourself off the piles of paperwork, bills and catalogues by sorting them an either trashing or filing appropriately
- Plan for your vacation – You have all the time to research on the destinations and bookings
- You can spend some time knitting, crocheting or making crafts that you can give out as gifts. All you need to do is identify your strength
- Plan for a garage sale. That is prepare an inventory of what you will get rid of.
- Come up with a to do list for the handy man
- Plot your summer garden by carefully choosing the plants you need
- Keep a diary of your recovery journey. This will help you know how to support others better.
Follow up care
It is important that you go on weekly dental visits after your TMJ surgery. This can actually go on for several months where adjustments are made to a removable splint while also exposing the jaws to exercises and physical therapy. The physical therapy that entails use of moist heat packs, ice packs, gentle jaw stretching and ultrasound is aimed at eliminating the TMJ syndrome permanently. Strenuous activities like scuba and wind playing must be postponed in order to avoid clenching or stressing the joint thereby worsening the TMJ pain treatment.
Complications and results
Although infections are not common when surgery is an option for TMJ symptoms and treatment, swelling is usually reported with arthroscopic surgery. Some of the possible adverse effects usually affect the ear and they include cuts within the ear, blood clots and temporary decreased hearing. Nerve damage may also be reported in some patients even though such cases are rare. Overall, most of the people who suffer from TMJ syndrome and have surgery performed can experience improved jaw function within a period of 6-12 months.
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