Ailments associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are common. It’s likely that you or someone you know has experienced symptoms related to the joint that connects the jaw with the skull on each side of the head. This joint may become misaligned, injured or damaged and lead to a variety of uncomfortable issues. Jaw pain, restricted chewing or mouth opening, popping or clicking, earaches, headaches or jaw locking are all possible with TMJ Disorder.
One of the biggest frustrations for those suffering with TMJ Disorder is that there are no fast and easy solutions to fixing the problem. One permanent solution is jaw surgery, but most patients hope to avoid that intrusive option if possible.
Doctors offer suggestions on ways to manage TMJ symptoms before resorting to surgery.
Teeth grinding creates jaw tension that can cause pain and stress in the area, as well as damage tooth enamel. Wearing a mouth guard at night can help reduce pain and allow the joint to heal. Customized mouth guards are available through your dentist.
TMJ Disorder has been linked to stress, which causes people to tighten the muscles in the neck, shoulders and jaw. Patients may find relief by practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, exercise and other stress-free activities or hobbies that help them manage stress.
Healthy sleep patterns can also alleviate TMJ Disorder symptoms. Establishing a consistent routine and learning to wind down with reading or music may help, and avoiding electronic gadgets like television or cell phone use at bedtime. Getting ample rest helps the body recharge, regulates hormones, and naturally reduces stress.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications may relieve TMJ symptoms, as well as applying ice packs to the joint. Watching what you eat can also help, making sure to avoid overly chewy foods. Massaging the shoulders, back and jaw muscles may also provide relief.
Some patients have found success through treatments like Botox injections or acupuncture. Just make sure any treatments you try are safe and approved by your doctor.