An autoimmune disorder—inflammation affecting synovial joints.
Joint inflammation; morning stiffness lasting > 30 minutes which improves with movement; inflammation in other joints such as hands, wrists, feet, elbow, ankles.
Positive laboratory tests of Rheumatoid Factor, anti-CCP antibody; and a strong association with HLA-DR4. X-rays show bone destruction, which is usually affecting both TMJs. Early stages usually, indicates negative findings on radiographs but during advance stages, there is evidence of destruction of the condylar surface and the joint space is narrowed or completely gone.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are used during acute phases of the disease, accompanied with mild jaw exercises to prevent loss of motion when acute symptoms subside. If disease progress into ankylosis (fusion of the bones of the TMJ), surgery is recommended.
Good prognosis with pharmacological anti-inflammatory maintenance; regular, minimal-resistance exercise;behavioral and diet modification.