Basics of TMJ Disorder
Your jaw hurts and you’re getting headaches. What is causing the pain? Please, just go away. You find out that it’s your TMJ and then you search for answers. Here is some basic information about TMJ and how to help ease the pain from it.
The temporomandibular joints open, close, and move the jaw. They are sliding motion and hinge action joints. A disc cushions the joint, allowing the jaw to glide, close, rotate, and open. Problems can arise with the muscles surrounding the joints, with the cushioning disc, or with the joint – causing you pain.
These joints are under pressure from chewing, talking, and other motions. That means they are also a common source of joint and muscle problems, and pain.
Chronic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain can warrant a trip to the dentist or doctor to assess the root cause. Teeth grinding is a common culprit as is the habit of tensing your jaw without realizing it, like when you are anxious or stressed.
No matter the cause of the pain, exercise can help relieve tension and offer relief. TMJ pain is often temporary. In other cases, it comes in the form of flare-ups that disappear and then return. TMJ pain can also be chronic and progressive.
The most common causes of pain include:
- a dislocated joint
- muscle tension
- issues with tooth and jaw alignment
- teeth grinding or clenching
People with TMJ pain often hear a clicking sound as the joint moves. Diagnosing the source of any clicks properly, as well as the cause of the pain, can be key to creating a treatment plan.
This can be as easy as exercising your muscles and joints.
Exercising Away the Pain
Strengthening exercises are best to perform between TMJ flare-ups. During times of intense pain, they can make the pain worse.
Here are two strengthening exercises:
- Place a thumb under your chin and push your chin downward against it. Continue opening the mouth against moderate force from your thumb, and then hold it open for 5-10 seconds.
- Open your mouth as wide as you comfortably can. Put your index finger between your chin and lower lip. Push inward while closing your mouth against the resistance.
Add in two relaxation exercises:
- Slowly inhale, allowing your stomach rather than your chest to expand. Exhale slowly while making your exhalation last as long as your inhalation. Repeat 5-10 times.
- While sitting or lying in a comfortably supported position, tense and release tension from each muscle in your body. Begin with the feet and work upwards to the head.
This second exercise is a progressive relaxation exercise to help people become more aware of tension spots. It may also equip them with the skills to consciously release that tension.
Stretching exercises can also help with TMJ pain during a flare-up.
Reducing muscle and joint tension, they offer longer-term relief:
- Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Open your mouth as wide as you comfortably can and hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Glide your lower jaw out as far as it will go and then back in as far as it will go. Hold for 5-10 seconds in each position.
- Slowly and steadily open your mouth as wide as it will comfortably open, with your tongue in a neutral position. Hold for 5-10 seconds then close your mouth. Next, open your mouth slightly and glide your lower jaw back and forth 5-10 times.
- Close your mouth. With your head facing straight ahead, glance to the right with your eyes only. Extend your lower jaw to the left and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Place a thin object, such as a pencil or paintbrush, in between your front teeth. Slide your lower jaw forward so that the object rests in between your back teeth and front teeth. Hold for 20 seconds.
As the fifth exercise becomes easier, people can use wider objects to separate their front and back teeth.
HOW CHIROPRACTIC SOLUTIONS CAN ALLEVIATE TMJ SYMPTOMS
Though TMJ pain may be unavoidable at times, through chiropractic support, you can keep it under control. Spinal manipulative therapy, soft tissue massage, and exercises have all been shown to reduce TMJ pain and symptoms through chiropractic oversight.
Also, chiropractic solutions include intraoral myofascial release, which is a technique that releases the muscles surrounding the joint, accessing them from the inner side of a person’s cheeks. Dentists and the chiropractic team can work in tandem to perform this kind of assessment and alleviation if deemed necessary.
Chiropractic can step in and focus on the relationship of the neck, spine, and back as it relates to the structure of the jaw in your skull. Although many assume that the solution to their TMJ can be found within the dental unit, the structuring of the jaw joint has nothing to do with dentistry at all.
Connected to our spinal system, you can have your TMJ aligned and monitored through chiropractic support to ensure that pressure is being alleviated from your face, head, and teeth.
TMJ and chiropractic adjustments to assist with pain
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