My mother who is 79 years old is complaining of right temporomandibular joint pain off and on. She has problems opening the jaw during the pain at times (not always). Would you please advise on this?
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This would happen firstly because, with age, facial muscles will usually start sagging or wrinkling, leading to muscle constriction, which is expected at this age. Occasionally these pains will be severe with limited mouth opening (trismus). When that happens, I suggest taking a muscle relaxant, not a painkiller. Some simple tips can help resolve this age-related dynamic of the jaw.
1) Use Chlorhexidine mouthwash atleast thrice a week before going to bed. If the pain is persisting from within the jaw, then the dental source should be checked. I request you to take a dental opinion.
2) Instead of painkillers, use a tablet like Hifenac MR (Aceclofenac, Paracetamol, and Chlorzoxazone). Use it twice a day after food for 3 to 5 days which is very safe till the muscles of TMJ relax.
3) As this is an age-related condition, the jaw itself can be stabilized surgically into position, but that is not recommended unless the pain is too severe. Instead, you can follow a simple mouth opening-closing slow and wide like oral physiotherapy multiple times a day. After this slow and wide opening of jaws, you can apply Powergesic gel (Diclofenac) if the pain comes. Topical NSAID (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) gels onto the joint surface of the skin will help relieve the pain. And instead of painkillers, take muscle relaxant medication. Enough sleep, hydration, and meditation will also relax the jaws considerably.
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