Jaw pain is one of the most common conditions that people have to cope with. What are some of the ways that you can alleviate TMJ pain naturally? Can a chiropractor help with TMJ dysfunction? We will address the answers to these questions in our article, so get ready for the best ways to get natural help for jaw pain and the other symptoms of TMJ dysfunction.
Ice That Inflammation Away
We often get asked, which is better for pain, ice or heat? The answer is that it has to do with the cause of the pain. Heat can draw more blood to an injury and help to speed up healing. However, this process also brings more white blood cells to the area. So if the pain is coming from inflammation, heat can actually make the problem worse.
Jaw pain is usually related to inflammation, so we recommend ice. Never put an ice pack directly against your skin. Wrap it in a clean cloth or thin towel. Don’t ice your jaw for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Eat Softer Foods for a Few Days
Sometimes jaw pain is just due to overuse. Even if it isn’t, you want to give your jaw time to rest and heal. That means switching up your diet when TMJ pain strikes. You need to avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods to rest your jaw properly. That means swapping out that breakfast bagel for some scrambled eggs. Ask the deli to put some of your lunchmeat on the side, so you don’t have to unhinge your jaw to get your mouth around lunch. Gum is definitely off the table if your jaw hurts. Try mints instead if you need to freshen your breath (and don’t chew them).
Use Relaxation Methods to Reduce Stress
Stress can make you clench your jaw or even grind your teeth, and that can create pain in the jaw. Therefore, it is necessary to have some positive relaxation methods to help you wind down from work or whatever else may be causing you anxiety. Here are a few good ways to relax and unwind:
- Deep breathing – Slow, deep breathing techniques can both relax you and help to control pain levels
- Meditation – Don’t just clear your mind, work to think actively about positive things
- Exercise – Exercise produces hormones that help to relieve stress and can reduce pain levels in the body
- Hobbies – Take up an instrument, some form of art or craft, or any other relaxing hobby
- Massage – Have a loved one give you a massage or see a professional massage therapist
- Vacation – Take a break once in a while, even if you can only get away for a day or two
Exercise Your TMJ
You want to rest your jaw but also want to strengthen the joint. Your doctor may be able to show you some gentle stretches or TMJ exercises that you can do at home to reinforce your TMJ and reduce pain. You may also be able to massage your own jaw to relieve some of the pain.
Where Does TMJ Pain Start From?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question may vary from one person to the next. However, there are a number of usual suspects when it comes to jaw pain. If you have suffered a head or neck injury, this could have caused misalignments that are affecting the jaw. If you grind your teeth at night due to stress, this can also weaken the jaw and lead to pain. Finally, if your bite is uneven, this can result in stress on the jaw joint.
Sometimes, you can look at other symptoms that indicate what the underlying factors are. For example, if, besides jaw pain, you are also dealing with face pain, numbness and tingling, neck pain, headaches, and earaches or chronic infections, then your underlying issue may be an upper cervical misalignment. How can a small misalignment in the C1 and C2 lead to all these symptoms?
Put plainly, it is because the surrounding soft tissue shifts to keep the head properly balanced. This can affect neck muscles, drainage of the ears, facial nerves, and even the alignment of the jaw. Therefore, we would like to present to you one more natural option for TMJ pain management – upper cervical chiropractic care.
Can a Chiropractor Help with TMJ Dysfunction?
The short answer is yes if your TMJ problem relates to a misalignment. Since this is a common mitigating factor, it makes sense to see an upper cervical chiropractor if you are suffering from jaw pain on a recurring basis. This is especially true if you have a history of head or neck trauma, or if you work in an office or another setting where you may frequently adopt a slumped posture with a forward head position.
Upper cervical chiropractic involves precise measurements taken using modern diagnostic imaging techniques. Gentle adjustments are provided following an examination to ensure a misalignment exists. If your correction holds from a previous visit, you won’t get adjusted “just because” or for “maintenance.”
Upper cervical chiropractic does not involve any popping or twisting of the spine. That makes this a gentle and specific form of chiropractic that is safe for patients of all ages and health levels. To learn more about what upper cervical chiropractic may be able to do for you, contact a practice in your area, and schedule a no-obligation consultation.