Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are among the leading causes of pain and discomfort in many Americans. Chances are, you came across this blog post because you also have TMJD and hope to understand how the condition works and what you can do to find sustainable TMJ pain relief. Let’s help you improve your TMJD care plan by discussing a bit more about the symptoms and the four identified triggers.
Why TMJD Hurts
TMJ disorders afflict about 10 million Americans. It develops from an irritated or damaged TMJ – the hinge-like connection between the lower and upper jawbones. Notably, most patients diagnosed with TMJ experience varying levels of jaw pain that worsen when chewing, talking, shouting, or grinding one’s teeth. Additionally, people with TMJD report additional problems because of their condition, such as:
- Tender or swollen jaws
- A warm sensation on the TMJ
- Stiff or hard to move jaws
- Neck pain
- Ear pain
- Hearing a grinding or clicking sound
- Chronic headaches
5 Things That Can Sett off a TMJ Flare-Up
Many patients note that the pain from a damaged or irritated TMJ can come and go. So there may be times when you won’t experience discomfort and days when you have what doctors call a TMJ flare-up. Basically, a TMJ flare-up can set off new symptoms or intensity existing ones. Flare-ups often stem from certain factors, including trauma, stress, excessive jaw movements, TMJ deterioration because of arthritis, and postural imbalances.
Stress has various effects on patients suffering from TMJ disorders. First of all, it can increase body inflammation and put additional strain on your TMJ. Secondly, studies strongly associate stress with awake bruxism, a condition that drives you to clench or grind your teeth due to anger, frustration, and other intense emotions. We strongly suggest learning how to manage your stressors better to prevent unwanted flare-ups and exacerbate other health concerns that might impact your jaw and TMJ.
#2. Excessive jaw movements
Excessive and exaggerated jaw movements when chewing hard food, yelling, singing, and doing other activities can increase risks for worse TMJ pain. You should also avoid talking too long or opening your mouth too widely when eating or yawning. Also, you might find it helpful to switch to a soft diet to lessen the mechanical strain on your jawbones and joints.
#3. Physical trauma
A neck or head injury can sometimes affect the jawbones and the TMJ. That’s why, some patients seek an upper cervical chiropractic doctor for TMJ pain relief. The force from neck or head trauma can dislodge the neckbones. Additionally, the injury can dislocate the TMJ and trigger the onset of different painful symptoms.
If you previously hurt or injured your head or neck, we suggest checking in with your doctor to assess the damage and check for potential complications. You might also want to consult with alternative healthcare professionals like an upper cervical doctor to determine if the injury resulted in the dislocation or irritation of your TMJ.
#4. Arthritis-related TMJ damage
Not many people know that arthritis can develop in the jaw. We rarely hear arthritis patients who complain about a painful jaw. Instead, they complain of arthritis symptoms in their hands, knees, and ankles. However, studies have found that arthritis in the jaw can develop because of the following:
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Unfortunately, if you have any of the three inflammatory conditions, you are more likely to have worse TMJ damage and severe jaw pain. Hence, exploring arthritis medications and natural relief options is imperative to lessen your susceptibility to TMJ flare-ups.
#5. Vitamin D deficiency
A recent study found that vitamin D supplementation effectively provides TMJ pain relief. According to the findings, patients with Vitamin D deficiencies experience worse TMJ flare-ups and experienced significant improvements after taking food supplements.
A separate study explains that lack of Vitamin D increases the parathyroid hormone levels of patients with TMJD. In excess amounts, the parathyroid hormone can disrupt calcium metabolism, which plays a part in maintaining bone and joint health.
If you think you lack vitamin D in your diet, you can try taking food supplements or jazzing up your weekly meals with Vitamin D-rich food items.
TMJ Flare-ups: How Long They Last
The intensity and frequency of a TMJ flare-up vary from one patient to another. So, it would help if you considered several factors, including the triggers, the level of TMJ damage, and the choice of remedies you use to achieve TMJ pain relief.
Some might resolve on their own without requiring medical intervention. However, others might require the attention and assistance of a physician or a TMJ chiropractor to gauge the level of TMJ damage or irritation.
Seeking TMJ Pain Relief Through Upper Cervical Care
Patients from different backgrounds often seek an upper cervical doctor for TMJ pain relief. Several case studies have proven the connection between TMJ damage to cervical subluxation. As we mentioned earlier, postural imbalances in your topmost neckbones due to previous injuries can leave a lasting impact on your TMJ.
So, if you have TMJ and constantly experience TMJ flare-ups, we recommend getting your neck bone checked by a doctor of chiropractic specializing in upper cervical care. This will help you determine if you have neck bone discrepancies and need to receive C1 and C2 bone adjustments.
Please get in touch with the nearest TMJ chiropractor in your city to schedule your initial upper cervical chiropractic consultation.