Just recently, a BuzzFeed article featured the story of a patient with TMJ pain who tried getting botox injections to deal with the pain. Hannah, the patient, narrated her life-changing experience to spread awareness on TMJ disorders and the potential of botox injections in providing TMJ pain relief. But, how exactly can botox injections help? What can patients expect from the procedure? And more importantly, what other alternatives do patients have, especially if they aren’t keen on receiving botox injections?
What’s TMJD and How Can it Affect You?
TMJ pain is one of the USA’s worst and most crippling conditions. Currently, it afflicts 1 out of 12 Americans. But doctors and dentists believe that are many unaccounted cases due to the difficulty of diagnosing the symptoms and the lack of awareness on TMJ disorders.
Anyone diagnosed with this disorder is no stranger to symptoms like searing jaw pain, swallowing and speaking difficulties, and achy facial muscles. It can also cause strange popping sounds whenever you move your jaw while talking, eating, or moving your mouth.
The symptoms only surface when triggered by stress, teeth grinding, hormonal changes, and excessive pressure on the jawbones. It can also worsen due to vertebral subluxations and oral health problems (tooth abscess, tooth decay, and crooked teeth).
Thankfully, medical and dental sciences have paved the way for the development of promising TMJ pain relief options. One example of which is botox injections.
Botox Injections for TMJ Pain Relief
Several studies have already examined the potential of using botox injections for TMJD relief. One example would be the 2012 research paper that discovered how botox injections could help soothe TMJ pain and increase mouth movements.
Another TMJ pain study published six years later found that 80 percent out of 40 test respondents reported massive improvements in the TMJD after receiving botox treatment.
But how exactly does this remedy help TMJD patients? Moreover, what are its potential complications?
Most people immediately associate botox treatment with the beauty and cosmetology niche. That’s because hundreds to thousands of people across the country use it to conceal wrinkles, crow’s feet, and other visible signs of facial skin sagging. It works by paralyzing muscle tissues temporarily to create that stretched appearance on the skin.
Seeing that it works well in paralyzing muscles, some researchers and clinicians use the same toxin to limit the functions of the jaw muscles. This can lessen the pressure on the temporomandibular joints until the neurotoxin effects wear out.
According to some dentists, it can provide three to four months of pain relief. However, some studies warn against its potential side effects, such as the following:
- Redness or soreness on the injection site
- Decreased jaw bone density
- Facial muscle deformity, especially for repeated doses
If you are keen on trying botox treatment, we strongly recommend consulting with your general physician, dental doctor, or neurologist. Alternatively, you can consider other options for TMJ pain relief.
Alternative Options for TMJD Relief
Besides botox treatment, you have other options to reduce the impact of TMJD in your life. Some of these involve making simple lifestyle changes. Others require using proven methods or techniques. Let’s explain one by one your potential options.
Manage the primary sources of your stress
Studies established a strong connection between stress and worse TMJ pain. It can increase teeth grinding and put more pressure on an already-irritated TMJ. That’s why you must be aware of your stressors and learn to manage them. Some options you can try include meditation, low-impact water exercises, yoga, and massage.
Soothe irritated joints with a cold pack
Cold therapy works wonders in providing quick TMJD relief. So, we suggest grabbing a few ice cubes and wrapping them in a towel or using a frozen gel pack if you experience sudden bouts of jaw pain. This can help soothe the pain and reduce the swelling.
Opt for a soft diet or avoid eating hard or chewy food
Because chewing hard food can aggravate TMJ pain, you should consider switching to soft or mushy food. You can try a few examples of healthy food options, including creamy mashed potatoes and steamed fish. You can also incorporate superfood protein, or fruit shakes into your diet.
Additionally, we suggest steering clear from food that will require you to open your mouth wide like a tower of burger patties and a double-decker sandwich.
Make sure you sleep enough
Studies have long proven that long restorative sleep plays a pivotal role in efficient pain management. That’s why doctors, neurologists, and upper cervical chiropractors remind patients to get enough sleep. Here are a few methods to ensure a sound sleep:
- Check the firmness of your pillow and bed
- Keep your room free from distractions
- Limit blue light exposure before bedtime
- Avoid sleeping long hours during the day
- Use a mouthguard to prevent or minimize teeth grinding
- Switch to a comfortable light setting
- Check the thermostat setting and adjust accordingly
Seek Upper Cervical Care
Apart from the remedies we listed above, you might also find it beneficial to seek an upper cervical chiropractic physician. That’s because studies show that most people who suffer from TMJ disorders have misaligned C1 and C2 bones. Notably, these two displaced bones affect the alignment of your jawbones. They can also put pressure on the temporomandibular joint.
We recommend trying upper cervical care if you also happen to have cervical subluxation due to previous accidents or an intense blow to the neck during a sports event. It’s a scientifically-backed remedy for TMJ pain that doesn’t cause unwanted side effects and put additional pressure on your body. It also uses accurate and low-force neck bone adjustments to ensure your safety and comfort.
Find out if upper cervical chiropractic can work as your source of TMJ pain relief by calling a nearby neck chiropractor today!