Pain Relief for TMJ Disorder

Pain Relief for TMJ begins with an understanding of the structure. The TMJ is the Tempero-Mandibular Joint. The disorders of this joint normally come in three flavors...dislocation of the joint, dislocation of the cushioning disc in the joint and hypertension of the muscles surrounding this joint- putting a lot of pressure on the structure. Many times it will be more than one issue caused by years of pressure... and one of these issues can sometimes cause another. Many people have had this jaw disorder and have been looking for pain relief for TMJ for years. Usually we only begin to address it when the popping or tightness turns into TMJ Jaw Pain , TMJ Ear Pain , or TMJ Neck Pain . Frequently, the issue becomes worse from dental work or orthodontia, which both can change the bite, therefore changing the dynamic of the muscles around it, and the way the joint works. Something to be aware of if you are suffering from this disorder is that TMJ issues very often become worse with severe neck tension.

Having experienced issues personally with my TMJ joint disorder , which grew much worse with my orthodontic work in my teens, as well as working with my clients, I've learned some easy tactics for pain relief for TMJ. These strategies for pain relief for TMJ can involve changing patterns you may be too used to, and it may be difficult to break the habits. Some of the things people do every day, that can exacerbate the TMJ neck pain, TMJ ear pain and TMJ jaw pain are:

Sleeping on your side or stomach. These positions put an incredible amount of pressure on the TMJ joint!! When you close your eyes and lie on your pillow, bring your attention to BOTH joints at the side of your face, just in front of your ear. No doubt you will feel the pressure caused by sleeping that position. Sleeping on your back is the only way you can sleep that will avoid putting pressure on these vulnerable joints.

Sleeping on your back with a big pillow. I know, I just mentioned sleeping on your back, and then I have to make a qualification! If you sleep with a big pillow, it will tighten the muscles around the joint, in the neck and into the ear. Finding a small pillow, or even using a rolled towel under the neck (which is how I sleep) will go a long way to creating pain relief for TMJ.

Holding the phone to your ear with your shoulder. This can cause tightening the muscles of your neck, and put a lot of pressure directly on the jaw joint, which is not a good idea if you are having TMJ jaw pain, TMJ ear pain or TMJ neck pain!! In many places on this site about neck pain, headaches, and upper back pain, you will be asked to pleeeeeeease get a headset!

Chewing gum!

I have virtually given up chewing gum since experiencing pain in my jaw. If I do, it ends up shooting pain into my ear for a day or two. Some of the reason for this is that it tightens the muscles which squeezes nerves around your jaw, and compress the TMJ joint. In reading about this disorder, you may also want to avoid anything chewy for a time if you are in acute pain.

Our strategies for pain relief for TMJ involve helping the muscles around the joint, and other muscles putting pressure on the joint to loosen up. This will NOT CURE TMJ...it will usually alleviate the pain, though. It will especially help when the pain is from the muscular issue associated with the disorder...but can still sometimes alleviate the pain from the joint issues, because it will take some of the pressure off the joint.

You will want to massage the muscles which put pressure on the joint. These are the muscles along your jawline (in the lower part of your cheek), the muscles above and just behind your ear, and definitely your neck muscles. There are also muscle in the sides of the back of your mouth called the pterygoids. You can feel these muscles in the sides of the back of your mouth if you open your mouth as wide as you can. If you can manage to stretch these, that can help... They are difficult to find and uncomfortable to massage, but the relief can be completely worth it. There are some massage therapists, physical therapists and chiropractors who can help you with this, but be sure they are trained in these techniques.

The other thing you can do is apply compresses to the side of your face (including the temporalis muscles above and behind your ears). If your TMJ joint is inflamed, which is possible if you are having pain, you will want to use cold compresses. The warm compresses can help with relaxing the muscles putting pressure on the joint, though. In our training we've learned that we want to apply cold or heat for no longer than 15 minutes at time, with an hour between treatments, unless you are rotating hot and cold. When doing a contrast treatment, we use each for 10-15 minutes.

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