TMJ Medication mainly focus on eliminating the inflammation within the joint area and surrounding tissues. Medications are usually employed with other treatments as well, even though they can be quite effective alone in some TMJ cases. The standard approach is to start with less aggressive medications, and then to prescribe higher potency drugs if the condition worsens or fails to improve. Three main categories of medications for TMJ are used: aspirin, NSAID’s and corticosteroids.
Initially, aspirin or other over-the-counter medications are tried for TMJ symptoms. Not only are these medications inexpensive, but they are often quite effective. Aspirin blocks parts of the inflammatory reaction within the temporo-mandibular joint to allow the TMJ symptoms to heal and improve. Similarly, NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) accomplish the same thing but through blocking different pathways of the TMJ inflammation. NSAID’s include medications like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and many others. There are also many NSAID’s that are stronger in effect, but they require a prescription. Common side effects with aspirin and NSAID’s are stomach irritation, and these are rarely used together. Taking with food with these medications is often encouraged.
If these medications fail to work in resolving TMJ complaints, then other medication options exist. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory agents that are used in TMJ. They can be injected or given as tablets. Even though they are more potent, they also have greater risk of side effects, so these are reserved for more severe cases of TMJ disorders. Fortunately, if corticosteroids are used in TMJ syndromes, there duration is usually brief making side effects much less likely.