At the word arthritis, an image of an elderly person with swollen knees and hand joints appears before us. Imagine a person who experiences excruciating pain with any movement of the jaw . This is how arthritis of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) manifests itself. The movements of the lower jaw are carried out due to the work of the temporomandibular joint. It got this name because it connects the temporal bone and the lower jaw. The joint is paired (the same structures are located on the right and left sides), it works as a whole.

Like other joints, it contains bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and intra-articular fluid. All these structural elements can become inflamed as a result of certain influences. This is TMJ arthritis. According to some authors, arthritis of the jaw joint occurs in 5-25% of all those who visit the dentist. In the group of patients with maxillofacial anomalies, it reaches 84%.

The causes and factors contributing to the occurrence of arthritis of the maxillofacial joint are very diverse and consist of both common causes for any joint, and those that determine the specificity of jaw arthritis. You can highlight:

  • infections;
  • chronic and endocrine diseases;
  • genetic predisposition;
  • violation of metabolic processes;
  • lack of nutrients;
  • congenital dentoalveolar defects;
  • maxillofacial injuries.


By origin, arthritis of the jaw joint is divided into infectious and non-infectious. Infectious arthritis of the TMJ are specific and non-specific. Non-specific include those that occur if streptococcal, staphylococcal and other pathogenic microflora enter the body and develop. Specific – occur after a person has been ill: tuberculosis  or sexually transmitted diseases (gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia). Specific TMJ arthritis is a very rare form of the disease.

Non-infectious arthritis is classified into:

  1. Rheumatoid is an autoimmune systemic disease that affects connective tissue. The causes of this pathology are currently unknown.
  2. Reactive – the consequences of previous infections of the genitourinary system, gastrointestinal tract and other organs.
  3. Traumatic – a consequence of the transferred closed injuries, fractures, dislocations.

rthritis of the maxillofacial joint can be acute and chronic. Acute arthritis can have serous and purulent periods of disease development.

The most common in practice is infectious nonspecific acute arthritis. The jaw joint can become infected as a result of ENT diseases, for example, otitis media, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, or pathologies of other nearby structures: inflammation of the salivary glands, dental problems (caries, periodontitis, purulent diseases of the teeth and gums).


Each type and period, each stage and form of jaw arthritis has its own distinctive characteristics.

Acute nonspecific TMJ arthritis is characterized by:

  • acute pain in the joint area, radiating to the ear, temple, neck;
  • increased pain when trying to move the slightest jaw;
  • increased pain when pressing on the joint;
  • swelling and redness of the skin in the joint area;

In a purulent period, may add: fever, chills, fever, nausea, dizziness. As a result of severe edema, the patient may begin to hear worse, abscesses sometimes burst into the ear canal, in which case pus may flow from the ear.

In the chronic form of the course, all symptoms are blurred. The main complaint is the limitation of mobility, when the jaw moves, a crunch and crackle are heard . Painful aching, usually of low intensity.

Rheumatoid is characterized not only by the symptoms of damage to the jaw joint but also by the body as a whole:

  • sharp pain in the lower jaw;
  • limitation and stiffness when moving the jaw;
  • subfebrile body temperature is possible;
  • pain and bumps on the joints of the  limbs, signs of kidney damage, heart.
  • weakness, decreased performance;
  • muscle pain;

Since traumatic arthritis is caused by maxillofacial injuries, severe pain occurs. Symptoms are determined by the nature of the injury.

A distinctive feature of maxillary arthritis is a rather long asymptomatic period. There may be an increase in body temperature. Symptoms begin at an advanced stage of the disease.

Diagnostics and treatment

The complexity of the jaw structure and numerous factors affecting its condition lead to difficulties in making an accurate diagnosis. The problem arises even when choosing a specialist. Who should you contact: surgeon, traumatologist, rheumatologist, dentist? This choice is determined by the type of maxillofacial arthritis. The main diagnostic method is radiography, if necessary, computed tomography. If you suspect rheumatoid arthritis of the jaw, general, biochemical and immunological blood tests are required .

Treatment tactics are determined by the type, form, and period of the disease.

In the treatment of acute arthritis of the TMJ, the joint must be fixed for a certain time so that it is motionless. For non-specific and traumatic arthritis, drugs are used :

  1. NSAIDs to relieve pain and inflammation of the jaw .
  2. Analgesics for severe pain.
  3. Antibiotics to fight infections.
  4. Chondroprotectors and vitamin complexes to improve the condition of the joint .
  5. Hormonal drugs and cytostatics for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

The doctor selects specific remedies individually for each patient, depending on the characteristics of the disease and the patient’s condition.

The treatment is complemented by the use of physiotherapeutic procedures, they speed up metabolic processes, improve blood supply to the joint, relieve swelling, and reduce pain:

  • electrophoresis;
  • UHF – therapy;
  • US – therapy;
  • exposure to laser radiation;
  • mud therapy.

    During the recovery period, treatment may include special exercises and massage.

    If acute arthritis of the TMJ becomes purulent, most often it is necessary to resort to surgical intervention. The abscess is opened and drainage is placed, analgesics and antibiotics are prescribed, and physiotherapy is later applied.

    Chronic TMJ arthritis usually occurs if an acute one has not been treated. In this case, you need to be patient, chronic arthritis is treated for a long time. Electrophoresis and phonophoresis with bee products are used, massage is prescribed.

    Arthrosis is a disease of the joints, in which the destruction of cartilage and degenerative changes in the joint occurs. At a certain stage in the development of articular pathology, changes inherent in both arthritis and arthrosis can be observed. This is arthrosis-arthritis of the jaw joint.

    Medicines used by traditional medicine for the treatment of maxillofacial arthrosis-arthritis

    Use tinctures, ointments, decoctions, compresses. Folk remedies, like drug treatment, are aimed at eliminating symptoms, and also act on the cause of the disease. It is only necessary to strictly follow the installation – to consult with a doctor, discussing the use of folk remedies.

    A few simple recipes:

    1. Mix equal volumes of alcohol and honey. Apply a compress to the sore joint at night (use only natural honey).
    2. Iron the cabbage leaf with a hot iron and apply to the sore joint.
    1. Heat the sea salt in the oven or in a frying pan, place in linen or cotton cloth. Rub fir, tea or eucalyptus oil into the sore joint. Apply salt. Keep until cool.
    2. Mix black radish cake with honey, take 1-3 teaspoons a day. Rub the same mixture, slightly diluted with vodka, into the sore joint.

    There are many recipes, everyone can choose the one that suits him and helps him. In no case should you engage in self-diagnostics and self-medication, do not replace a visit to a doctor with a consultation with neighbors, relatives, friends, participants in Internet forums. Do not use medications or folk remedies that have helped someone. The basic rule is that only a doctor should prescribe any remedy, this also applies to traditional methods of treatment.


    Preventive measures involve timely treatment:

    • dental pathologies;
    • chronic, autoimmune and endocrine diseases;
    • foci of infection.

    Try to avoid injuries to the face, bruises of the jaws, hypothermia, which can provoke inflammatory processes. Eat reasonably and lead a healthy lifestyle.

    What will happen if not treated

    Consequences, neglect or insufficiently serious approach to treatment can lead to dire consequences depending on its type. The serous period of the course of acute arthritis can turn into purulent. The inflammatory process can spread to other organs and systems, which can lead to sepsis, meningitis, phlegmon. Untreated acute and traumatic arthritis of the jaw turn into a chronic form of the disease.

    Chronic arthritis causes the appearance of adhesions in the joint, which in the long term leads to ankylosis, in which the joint is completely deprived of mobility or contracture, while the mobility is only partially preserved. Untimely treatment of TMJ rheumatoid arthritis leads to damage to other joints and internal organs: kidneys, lungs, heart. The forecasts are the most unfavorable.

    Arthritis of the maxillofacial joint is a serious, rapidly progressive disease. Remember, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it is.

    Categories: ARTHRITIS


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