Are you experiencing pain, stiffness, or a burning sensation in your jaw that radiates toward your ears and neck? You may be coping with a TMJ disorder. The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is a complex joint that both opens and closes as well as slides from side to side. This allows you to chew, speak, and makes hundreds of different facial expressions. So what can you do if your TMJ is in pain? Here are 5 different ways that people are approaching this common ailment.
#1. Medications, Injections, and Surgeries
These are the options that are usually considered “traditional” western medicine. What medications, injections, and surgeries are available for TMJ pain?
- Medications – There are a few different medications that may be administered. These include muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety medications. Muscle relaxers are used to dull the pain. Anti-anxiety drugs can lower stress levels, which is important if TMJ pain is caused by bruxism (grinding of the teeth).
- Injections – Some research has been performed regarding the use of Botox for pain. Everything from migraines to TMJ problems make the list of painful conditions this may be recommended for. Be sure to do your research on the possible side effects. Another injection type is corticosteroids. These are administered to reduce inflammation. Again, you should learn about the potential side effects before agreeing to such an invasive form of care.
- Surgeries – TMJ surgeries are the most invasive form of care and should be a last resort. Even then, you may decide you can live with the problem. Discuss the risks before undergoing any type of surgery.
#2. Dental Options
TMJ pain can be related to a number of dental issues. Here are a few times when you may seek dental intervention:
- Bruxism – If your jaw problems are occurring because you grind your teeth at night, a custom-fit mouthguard may prevent this from happening.
- Jaw abnormalities – If you were born with a jaw deformity or if your jaw failed to develop properly, you may need the jaw to be set properly to get rid of the pain.
- Braces – If your teeth are misaligned to the point where you must open and close your mouth at an odd angle for chewing and speaking, correcting the teeth with braces may help with the jaw issues.
#3. Stress Management
Once again, if the problem goes back to clenching of the jaw, you will want to learn how to cope with stress. There are a number of ways that you may be able to reduce stress, break the habit of grinding your teeth, and correct your jaw pain. These may include:
- Taking up a hobby
- Confiding in someone
- Having a creative outlet
- Spiritual development
#4. Home Care
There are a number of things you can do at home to help your TMJ pain. Some things that may be of assistance include:
- Ice the pain – If jaw pain is due to inflammation, ice can help. Be sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel so it is not directly touching your skin.
- Massage – A general practitioner, dentist, or chiropractor may be able to show you some jaw massage techniques that you can use at home when the pain starts.
- Stretches – A physician may also be able to help you learn some jaw stretches to keep the jaw limber.
- Eat soft foods – If the jaw has just been overworked, this can give your body the time it needs to heal naturally.
#5. Alternative Medicine
Besides the traditional techniques mentioned in our first point, there are a number of alternative forms of medicine that people use for jaw pain. Some of these include:
- Physical therapy – If your doctor doesn’t have any stretches or TMJ exercises to show you, he or she may be able to recommend a physical therapist who can do so.
- Massage therapy – If you need some advanced jaw massage techniques, a licensed massage therapist may be the best person to ask.
- Acupuncture – If you are worried about having needles stuck in your jaw, you may want to check with an acupuncturist first to see if that would even be part of the treatment. Oftentimes, acupuncture points are not directly where the pain is being felt.
- Chiropractic – While the majority of the spine is nowhere near the jaw and wouldn’t have any effect on it, the top two bones in the neck are very close to the jaw joint and can have a profound effect. This can explain why TMJ pain often radiates toward the neck. A subspecialty of chiropractic – upper cervical chiropractic – deals with these particular bones.
If you have never heard of upper cervical chiropractic before, you are not alone. Most people only find us once they have exhausted all other options and have become desperate. But sites like this one are trying to change that and help people to see the many symptoms that can result from an upper cervical misalignment, including TMJ pain.
If you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, especially if you have a history of head or neck trauma, a misalignment in the top bones of the spine may be the underlying issue. Correcting the problem at its source can give the body the opportunity to heal and may provide real long-term relief. To learn more, find an upper cervical practitioner in your area, and schedule a no-obligation consultation today.