TMJ arthocentesis is a minimally invasive surgical procedure usually done in an in-office setting under IV sedation or sometimes in the hospital. It is used in the treatment of an acute closed lock of the jaw, acute open lock of the jaw, painful clicking of the TMJs that does not respond to medical management and some cases of degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis. Once the patient is sedated and the joint is numbed up with local anesthetic, one or 2 small needles are gently introduced into the affected joint and the joint is thoroughly washed out with a sterile solution. The intent of this procedure is to wash out the inflammatory substances that may have built up in the joint contributing to limited motion and/or pain. At the end of the procedure sometimes a steroid or a similar medication in placed in the joint.
The procedure is usually associated with some dull pain and discomfort for the first few days with some residual numbness over the area lasting a few hours or rarely some days. You will be prescribed an antibiotic and pain medications and told to maintain a soft diet.
TMJ arthocentesis works best when done in conjunction with other modalities of treatment such as physical therapy, a hard night guard and medications.