TMJ Pain Relief: Comparing Painkillers and Natural Care


TMJ pain relief? Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain varies from gentle to severe. Prescription medications are often the go-to care for TMJ pain relief. Doctors recommend them to patients according to pain level and the underlying cause of the problem. But many people grow tired of just taking painkillers for any pain that they are suffering with and are looking for solutions that get to the underlying cause rather than just deal with the effects.

So first let's take a look at 10 painkillers for TMJ pain relief and then we will look at some solutions that focus on getting to the underlying cause of TMJ pain.

Top 10 Painkillers for TMJ Pain Relief

Here is a list of the most common painkillers for TMJ pain relief. They are mostly non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), antidepressants, and skeletal muscle relaxants.

  • Ibuprofen

Ibuprofen is a NSAID used to control TMJ pain. Advil and Motrin are some of the common Ibuprofen brand names. These help by reducing inflammation and pain. It is one of the most popular painkillers for TMJ pain relief and is available without any prescriptions. It is taken 3-4 times a day.

  • Antidepressants

Imipramine (Norfranil), Clomipramine (Anafranil), and Amitriptyline (Elavil) are a few examples of tricyclic antidepressants used in small doses alongside NSAIDs to control chronic TMJ pain. This is an off label use of antidepressants. It helps by reducing pain sensitivity.

  • Naproxen

Naproxen (Anaprox), an NSAID, is an efficient painkiller for TMJ pain. It is also known as Aleve. Its effect can last longer than Ibuprofen. You should only take it only once or twice a day. 

Piroxicam (Feldene) can help in controlling TMJ pain due to arthritis. It is given only once daily due to its long-lasting effect.

  • Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are administered orally or injected in severe cases of TMJ pain. Two commonly prescribed steroids are Prednisone (Deltasone) and Betamethasone (Celestone). Doctors prescribe it only for short durations because their long term use can give the patients many unwanted side effects.

  • Ketorolac, Nabumetone, Meloxicam

Ketorolac (Toradol), Nabumetone (Relafen), and Meloxicam  (Mobic) are NSAIDs that are more potent than Ibuprofen, and their effect lasts longer. These are strictly prescription-only painkillers. You should take Relafen or Mobic only once a day. However, you can take Ketorolac every 6 hours, but it is prescribed for five days only because of its adverse effects.

  • Co-codamol

Co-codamol is a mixture of paracetamol (Acetaminophen) and codeine phosphate (opioid). Physicians prescribe it when a NSAID alone is incapable of providing pain relief.  Its ideal dosage is not more than four times a day.

  • Benzodiazepines

Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam (Klonopin), and Diazepam (Valium) are benzodiazepines that manage TMJ pain directly by minimizing spasms and muscle tightness. This medicine also works indirectly by reducing your stress level.

  • Baclofen

Baclofen is a skeletal muscle relaxant. It helps patients when their TMJ pain relief is due to tight muscles. It is also along with NSAIDs to grant pain relief and muscle spasm reduction. 

Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) is another muscle relaxant. This one causes drowsiness and is, therefore, safer to take when you are about to sleep at night. It functions by lessening the contraction of tense muscles. 

Both these medications care for acute TMJ pain and only for a short duration. Metaxalone (Skelaxin) is also a muscle relaxant that helps reduce TMJ pain due to teeth grinding, clenching, and bruxism.

  • Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is an analgesic that does not have a considerable effect on inflammation. It merely works by increasing the pain threshold. It is an over-the-counter painkiller and has the least number of side effects. Dosage is four times a day for TMJ pain relief.

  • Aspirin

Aspirin or salicylate is a NSAID that is easily obtainable. It helps patients by reducing fever, moderate swelling, and pain. However, aspirin has blood-thinning properties, and you should not take it in conjunction with other blood thinners. You can take Aspirin up to 4 times daily.

Drugs for Severe TMJ Pain Relief

It is crucial to understand that if you are taking any of these drugs for more than two times a week, there are possible side effects. It can make a patient in danger of rebound or medication overuse headaches (MOH). This kind of headache is more intense than actual migraines, and the only effective way to get rid of them is to stop taking medication completely. 

However, there are severe side-effects of these medications. These side effects often appear more commonly when patients take these drugs for an extended period.

Some of the side effects when used long-term are:

  • Kidney damage
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Stomach ulcers 

Due to these, countless chronic pain patients are now turning towards natural ways to care for their TMJ pain relief and other chronic pains. Let’s look at one option that has shown and proven amazing results over the years.

Natural TMJ Pain Relief Option 

By now, it should be clear that medicine only treats symptoms. Meaning it offers only short-term relief with long-term possible side effects if a person uses them for prolonged periods. 

Upper Cervical Care, on the other hand, makes it a point to find the root cause of your problems. By identifying the problem, a clear solution can be done to offer you long-term relief with absolutely no drugs involved. Hence, no side effects whatsoever. 

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care – Finding the Root Cause of TMJ Pain

Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on the alignment of the uppermost bones of the neck (upper cervical spine). Chiropractors of this specific niche make sure that the atlas (C1) or axis (C2) vertebrae are always in proper alignment. 

The C1 or atlas bone is just beneath the skull, near the jawline. If the atlas vertebra moves out of its proper position, it can negatively affect the jaw and the facial nerves. As a result, various symptoms of a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD may occur. 

These TMD symptoms include swelling, pain, grinding or popping sound when chewing, and chronic facial pain. It explains why TMD pain tends to radiate down your neck, up into the ear, and throughout the face sometimes. Everything in this region of the face has intimate interconnections through the muscles, nerves, ligaments, and bones. 

Upper cervical chiropractic care employs gentle and precise care. With the use of specialized scanners and x-ray machines, upper cervical chiropractors determine the exact location of your misalignment precisely and quickly. They use low-force to realign the bones to their correct position more naturally.

As a result, the body accepts this natural way of realignment. It relieves severe pressure on the neck and the whole spine. Therefore, it allows for a longer-lasting adjustment. In conclusion, you can enjoy long-lasting relief from your TMJ pain without the threat of side effects from medications. 

Upper Cervical Care and TMJ Pain Relief Research

The relationship between upper cervical chiropractic and TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) has been studied in various research, including case studies, case reports, case series, and randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Case studies and case reports have shown positive outcomes for patients with TMJ disorders who received upper cervical chiropractic care. For example, a case study published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy described the chiropractic care of a patient with cervical subluxation and complaints associated with temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The initial symptomatic response to care was positive, and the patient made continued improvements during the 6 months of care.

Another case report published in the Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapy described the chiropractic care of a patient with cervical subluxation and complaints associated with temporomandibular disorder, headaches, and subluxation. The patient's symptoms improved and eventually resolved after 9 visits.

A retrospective case series of 14 patients with TMD who received Blair Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care showed a reduction of symptoms of TMD by balancing the head-to-jaw-to-neck relationship. The paper is titled Chiropractic Treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunction: A Retrospective Case Series.

Find an upper cervical specialist near you for TMJ pain relief. Use our search function to assist you.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.