Temporomandibular joint disorders, known as TMJ disorders in shorthand, are a relatively new area of study when it comes to stem cell therapy. In brief, a TMJ disorder is the result of damage to the ligaments or elements of the TMJ. This joint is essential to chewing and speaking. Such a disorder can result in a great deal of pain in and around the jaw, face, ears, and even the neck and shoulders. People with this condition may experience difficulty chewing and opening their mouths wide, and a popping or grating sound may accompany the movement of the jaw.
Up until recently, this type of disorder was considered by many to be extremely difficult to treat. Patients were given various treatments for specific symptoms, but the underlying disorder was left alone. Fortunately, stem cell therapy has become a serious contender as a potential long-term solution.
Procedures for this type of treatment have varied among specialists. However, at Gulf Coast Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center, we use the patient’s own stem cells to treat the TMJ. We collect these cells with a minimally invasive procedure, similar to liposuction, together with the fat in which the cells are found. The cells are then separated from the fat within 90 minutes, and the stem cells are injected into the TMJ using a tiny needle. More stem cells are given intravenously (by IV), to reach the joint and other affected areas via the bloodstream.
Though we are at an early stage of research, we are optimistic that stem cells have so far proven to be very promising in regenerating cartilage in TMJs. This opens the possibility for a long-term cure for sufferers from temporomandibular joint disorders.
Stem cell treatment for TMJ is still a new and novel approach and must be considered experimental at this time, in spite of the almost proven benefit. However, in view of the extremely low risk of the procedure, we are very optimistic that this method will become one of the standard choices of management for people suffering from TMJ disorder.
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