TMJ syndrome or Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome is more of an umbrella term that describes the pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw and the joints that connect the mandible to the skull. Pain management is necessary and available to avoid surgery or extreme medication in severe circumstances. Consulting first with Dr. Ang will take the guesswork out of the best practical approach to alleviating the discomfort.
What Does the Pain Feel Like?
Having TMJ can be the result of a sports injury, dental work, implant dentistry, or even just mental trauma and stress. This repetitive strain injury in the jaw bone is extremely painful and disruptive to sleep and some daily functions. Headaches and a clenching jaw are symptoms that can pose a real problem. The inflammation from tightness and pain in the muscles around the head, neck, and jaw become so tight, they cause pain or discomfort.
These muscles stay tight as the connective tissue shrink wraps and compresses everything down. They contract the muscles of the jaw to hopefully alleviate the tightness, which creates an avalanche of downward spiraling factors. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching ultimately cause more tightness and searing pain. It is possible to have jaw tendinitis where there is inflammation but no injury or to have tendinitis of the jaw with inflammation and exacerbate an injury. Reversal of either can be either simple or complex, so it’s a matter of knowing how to alleviate what started and going from there.
Primary Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
- Cluster headaches
- Sensitive skin on the head and face
- Pain in the jaw
- “Sinus Type” headache
- Inability to open the jaw smoothly
Any pain can be frustrating and take a toll on your body. Symptoms of depression and anxiety can crop up when a patient isn’t finding relief from chronic pain. Many people who suffer from TMJ symptoms describe the headache as a ‘ring of pain around the head.’ Every time a person who has TMJ speaks or grinds their teeth, the pain may increase to a debilitating state.
There are practical cures to practice at home when suffering from any of the above symptoms:
- Jaw exercises – Opening and closing your mouth as wide as you can, moving the jaw from side to side, holding each exercise for 10 seconds, four or five times each day, will ease the stress of jaw and teeth clenching.
- Relaxation exercises – Meditation, deep breathing, and slow movements of the body like yoga reduce pain and stress from the top down. Practice sitting erect on a comfortable sturdy pillow or chair, and strengthening the spine by deep breathing and slowly moving your head upward pointing forehead to sky, then bending your head downward placing chin on chest. These movements can be practiced 10-20 times each day while sitting.
- Change your Eating Habits – Addressing the nutritional deficiencies that aggravate TMJ and identifying the inflammatory foods that initiate the pain is first and foremost in dietary changes. Try to eliminate trigger foods, such as wheat, dairy, and sugar at the onset. If pain continues to persist, eliminate nuts, salty foods, and certain fruits or vegetables. Once you’ve noticed the persistent formation of headache discomfort associated with a certain food, avoid that food or beverage altogether.
- Lifestyle changes – There are several noticeable changes you can do to relieve any pain associated with TMJ. Pay attention to your posture. By taking intermittent breaks throughout the day to stretch after long hours of sitting, this will help prevent slouching and shore up the spine muscles. Get a hot massage, specifically focusing on the neck, jaw, and shoulder area. Apply cold packs when necessary to alleviate the symptoms. And finally, take an inventory of any prescribed medications or supplements you’re taking for other purposes and discuss them with your primary physician or dentist.
TMJ cures and reversals of agony don’t have to be a chore at all. Once you’ve targeted the symptoms, discovered the home remedies that you can integrate into your life, and receive proper diagnosis and guidelines from Dr. Ang at Amherst Village Dental, the road to recovery is just around the corner. Give his office a call to begin the process of enjoying life again!