Managing TMJ Jaw pain: What are the dos and don’ts?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the lower jaw to the skull on either side of your face. It allows your jaw to open and close, allowing you to perform tasks like talking and chewing. Because you use this joint so frequently, it is prone to disorders that cause pain and discomfort.

In this country, temporomandibular joint disorders are common. The disease is difficult to diagnose because it has several possible causes and varying symptoms. TMJ disorders are characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Jaw pain

  • Muscle stiffness

  • Neck pain

  • Headaches

  • Limited movement

  • Lock jaw

Seeing your doctor whenever you have such symptoms will help you get a proper diagnosis and the best treatment for your condition.

Your doctor will examine your jaw using techniques and imaging technology to detect problems in your joint or the soft tissues surrounding it.

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Additional Resource:

Learn more about TMJ: What is TMJ?

What Are the Causes of TMJ Disorders?

Temporomandibular joint disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including jaw injuries and medical conditions such as arthritis or infections. They appear when something goes wrong with your jaw muscles or joints as a result of harmful strenuous habits.

Although no one can pinpoint the exact cause of TMJ pain, certain risk factors are frequently linked to its contraction. Prolonged stress, poor posture, joint mobility, and female hormones are among them. TMJ disorders are more common in women than in men, and experts believe the estrogen hormone plays a role in their development.

How Are Temporomandibular Disorders Treated?

TMJ symptoms usually improve or disappear on their own after a few weeks of self-care and home remedies to address the underlying cause. Although TMJ is not fatal, failing to seek treatment will result in persistent muscle tension and discomfort around your affected joint.

You may experience symptoms such as inflammation and chronic pain, which can have a long-term impact on your quality of life. A medical expert will assist you in selecting the best treatment option for your TMJ disorder from the numerous options available. They advise beginning with home treatments and progressing to more aggressive options such as surgery if symptoms persist.

Some of the treatment options that are recommended when self-care fails include:

1. Medication is in the form of antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

2. Physical therapy through heating, cooling, acupuncture, and jaw exercises.

3. Surgery and other procedures, including arthroscopic surgery, open joint surgery, neck surgery, and injections.

Exercising your jaw joints and muscles can help you relax and improve your mobility. Our Richmond medical massage therapist offers a step-by-step therapy procedure that effectively relieves TMJ pain.

Dos and Don’ts of Managing TMJ Pain

Although non-surgical TMJ pain relief is possible, certain behavioral factors can aggravate your condition and cause severe pain.

Do Eat Soft Foods

Chewing puts strain on your joints and aggravates jaw pain. Soft foods that are easy to chew include yogurt, mashed potatoes, milkshakes, soups, smoothies, and scrambled eggs.

Don’t Eat Hard Foods

Raw carrots, nuts, whole apples, and chips can aggravate your pain symptoms and make them last for weeks. Avoiding chewing gum and other chewy foods will help you recover by reducing the strain on your jaw joint.

Do Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga can reduce stress on your jaw muscles, helping you relieve pain.

Don’t Practice Bad Habits

Yawning, yelling, chewing your lips, and resting your jaw in your hand can all cause or worsen jaw pain. Holding your phone between your shoulder and ear forces your joint into an abnormal position, which can also cause joint stress.

Note how often you practice such habits and find ways to avoid them.

Do Use Ice And Heat

Cold packs applied to the affected joint for 10 to 20 minutes will reduce swelling and pain. Wrap your ice pack in a clean towel or cloth to keep it from touching your skin. Applying moist heat to tense muscles will relax them and increase blood flow to your joints.

Do Maintain Good Posture

Maintain good posture throughout the day and even while sleeping, making sure it is good enough for your jaw. Maintain a neutral posture with your head, without slouching or craning forward, especially when working on a computer monitor. When sitting, always support your lower back, and sleep with a pillow for your neck.

Certain behavioral habits that you should avoid to improve your symptoms include:

Sleeping On Your Stomach

To relieve pressure on your jaw joint, avoid sleeping on your stomach. The sleeping position would require you to turn your head to one side and hold it there for the duration of the night, putting pressure on your facial muscles. When sleeping on your side, you should also avoid placing your hand under your jaw.

Biting Or Chewing Hard Objects

Chewing on objects like your fingernails, pens, pencils, or ice puts undue strain on your jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Taking large bites forces you to thrust your jaw forward, causing excruciating pain.

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw are common habits that aggravate your joints. Keep your teeth slightly apart and your jaw in a good position to reduce pain.

Looking for Comprehensive Massage Therapy in Richmond, VA? Contact Us Today!

TMJ disorders can be debilitating, and you may require a therapeutic approach to treatment, such as a TMJ massage. A TMJ massage will help you recover from your condition by preventing headaches, relieving pain in your upper or lower teeth, and reducing stress.

Jana Powell is a licensed massage therapist and a certified medical massage practitioner who offers TMJ patients personalized therapy care. Her one-of-a-kind, customized massage therapy sessions will assist you in managing your symptoms and achieving your goals. Make an appointment by calling (804) 901-2952.

Featured on Virginia This Morning:

Jana Powell recently sat down with Jessica Noll from Virginia This Morning to talk about TMD.

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