TMJ – TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT
The hinge connecting your jaw bone (the mandible) to the bones in your skull that are right behind your ears (the temporal bones) is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Disorders in this joint can cause discomfort in your face and jaw when you chew, yawn, or simply open your mouth.
And unfortunately, about 12% of Americans experience TMJ disorders at some point in their lives. If you’re in that 12% you know how disruptive and painful this condition can be.
WHAT IS A TMJ DISORDER?
The two joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull are very complex and allow your jaw to move in various motions – up, down, side to side, forward, and backward. A normal, healthy TMJ should be able to make these movements without any pain or clicking sounds. But when a person has a TMJ disorder, this joint is not moving correctly, which can cause several problems to occur.
The pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorders can be temporary or chronic. And when someone has a brief experience with TMJ, it will often resurface later on down the road.
It may affect only one or both sides of the face and is most common in people ages 20-40. Women tend to be affected by it more often than men. In fact, statistics show that nine women for every one man experience severe pain and restricted jaw movements.
WHAT CAUSES A TMJ DISORDER?
While the cause of TMJ disorders is not known for sure, symptoms may arise from problems with the jaw muscles or parts of the joint itself.
Injury to the jaw or the head and neck muscles can lead to TMJ disorders. These kinds of injuries can include a hard knock on the jaw from sports injuries or whiplash from an auto accident.
Another cause may be stress which can lead to tight facial muscles and grinding or clenching your teeth.
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF A TMJ DISORDER?
Common signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders can include:
- Jaw discomfort or soreness
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw joint, either in the open or closed position
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Pain spreading behind the eyes, in the face, shoulder, or neck
- A tired sensation in your cheeks
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
- Swelling in the face
Not all symptoms of TMJ disorders are located solely in the jaw area. Some of these symptoms can occur as shoulder pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), neck aches, or headaches, so it’s important to get a correct diagnosis.
AT-HOME REMEDIES FOR TMJ DISORDER
The most common treatment options for TMJ are home care and precautions to avoid things that could trigger it.
Using moist heat or ice packs can help reduce swelling and ease the pain. Changing your eating habits can help reduce some of the symptoms experienced from TMJ. Choosing softer foods that are easier to chew and cutting harder foods into smaller pieces can also help prevent pain associated with TMJ. You can also avoid crunchy foods and thick or large bites that require you to open wide.
To take pressure off your jaw, avoid resting your chin on your hands or holding the phone between your shoulder and ear. Practice relaxation techniques to help loosen up the jaw.
PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR TMJ
While at-home care is a great first place to start, our team at OC Wellness Physician Medical Group can provide a combination of effective treatments for both immediate and long-term relief. Some of these therapies include:
- Chiropractic Care – using precise techniques and adjustments to the neck, shoulders, and jaw to get your body aligned and functioning correctly.
- Electrotherapy TENS Therapy – using low-level electrical nerve stimulation to provide pain relief by relaxing your jaw joints and facial muscles.
- Physical Therapy – using specific exercises to stretch and strengthen your jaw, neck, and shoulders muscles.
- Trigger Point Injections – injecting pain medication or anesthesia into facial trigger points to provide muscle tension relief.
- Radio Wave Therapy – using radio waves to stimulate the joint, increasing blood flow and easing your pain.
- Low-Level Laser Therapy – can reduce pain and inflammation, helping with neck and jaw mobility.
We understand that TMJ pain can dramatically affect your life. That’s why we’re committed to getting you the most relief possible and back to feeling good again.
Are you ready to take back your life and stop suffering from TMJ pain? OC Wellness Physicians Medical Group is here to help.