TMJ pain is one of the most common complaints that a patient can suffer from. However, pain in the jaw is rarely the only symptom of a TMJ condition. You may also be dealing with neck pain, ear pain, numbness and tingling, headaches, and even difficulty sleeping. What are some of the approaches to care that doctors will try? What is the best option for you? Read on to learn more, and pay particular attention to the natural alternative mentioned in our last point.
Traditional Medicine for TMJ Pain
In America, conventional medicine usually refers to things like surgery, injections, or at least medication. Are any of these an option if you are dealing with pain in your jaw?
As far as surgery is concerned, this option should be pretty rare. However, it is possible that the issue with your jaw is due to a congenital disability that needs to be altered by a surgeon. If this is not the case, and if you have not exhausted all other options, it is always a good idea to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures.
Injections have become more common despite the invasive nature and the side effects that come with some of the injectables used for TMJ pain. For example, there is limited research that shows Botox injections may be able to help with TMJ issues. Be sure to do your due diligence before submitting to an option like this. The way Botox relieves the pain is by temporarily paralyzing the facial muscles. The source of Botox is the same bacteria that causes the condition known as botulism.
The least invasive form of traditional care is medication. If your doctor can identify the cause of your TMJ pain, he or she may be able to find a medication that helps. For example, if you are grinding your teeth at night due to stress, an anti-anxiety drug may be of benefit. For others, an NSAID may help to reduce pain and swelling while you search for the underlying issue.
How Your Dentist May Be Able to Help
Depending on the underlying cause of your jaw pain, another traditional way to get some help would be by going to the dentist. If you are suffering from bruxism (grinding of the teeth), you can be fitted for a custom mouthguard to wear while you sleep. While this doesn’t solve the problem entirely, it can provide some relief and keep things from getting worse while you try to treat the bruxism. If the problem is due to a jaw abnormality or misaligned teeth. A dentist or orthodontist may be able to help you get things lined back up properly.
The Role of Stress Management
We’ve mentioned bruxism a few times already, so it also makes seems to include stress management as a possible way to find relief. Reducing stress levels can help you to stop grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, and this may decrease the amount of pain you feel. There are a number of ways to manage stress properly. Here are a few:
- Enjoying a hobby or creative outlet
- Stretching and other forms of exercise
- Confiding in a family member, friend, or therapist
- Prayer, meditation, or other means of spiritual development
Home Remedies for TMJ Pain
You may be able to achieve the self-care you need by applying some of these home remedies. These are a great way to get some relief when your jaw is just overtired or if you are trying to avoid the side effects of more invasive measures.
- Ice – Ice is the natural enemy of inflammation, so if your pain is due to swelling, this is the way to go. Remember to wrap the ice in a towel so there is no direct skin contact, and limit icing sessions to 20 minutes at a time.
- Massage – Gently massage from the jaw joint near the ears down to the corners of the mouth and back. This may help relax the surrounding soft tissue.
- Stretching – Gently stretching the jaw is another way to get the soft tissue moving and may help loosen things up.
- Resting the jaw – It may be wise to eat softer foods for a time. Also, avoid yelling, loud singing, or other things that can be taxing on the TMJ.
If your jaw is just tired, following these tips may give it sufficient rest to feel better without any medical intervention. If that doesn’t work, the next step in natural care would be to see an upper cervical chiropractor. How is the neck related to the jaw?
Upper Cervical Chiropractic for Natural TMJ Help
The top bone in the neck, called the atlas, is located directly between the ears and the two sides of the jaw joint. It actually makes a lot of sense that TMJ problems, jaw pain, and ear pain often accompany one another. Everything is interconnected. When the upper cervical spine is misaligned, the surrounding soft tissue shifts to compensate, and this can lead to other issues.
If you are dealing with stubborn jaw pain, an upper cervical misalignment may be playing a role. To be sure, you should see an upper cervical specific chiropractor. This can help you to determine if such a misalignment exists. If so, precise and gentle corrections may be just what you need to get back on track and get rid of that pesky jaw pain for good. Contact a practitioner in your area today to learn more.