7 Ways to Reduce TMJ Pain at home

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Now that you know a little bit about the cause of jaw pain, here are a few things you can do on your own.

  1. Practice good posture.  Do your best to keep your back straight and head upright.  Now if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re destined to keep doing it.  Check in the mirror when you can, if it doesn’t seem to make a difference you may need a little more help.

Avoid grinding your teeth.  Easier during the day, your dentist has tools to help you with this as well.

Avoid gum chewing.  If there is compression and dysfunction in the alignment of the TMJ then more chewing only creates more degeneration.  Until you get some help, you might want to avoid eating anything hard or chewy.

Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth, take smaller bites.  Take it easy on your TMJ joints.

Do not sit with your chin resting in your hand, this protrudes the lower part of the joint and adds compression on a misaligned joint.

Relax your face.  Lips together and teeth slightly apart, think slack jawed, but mouth closed.

Don’t cradle your phone between your head and shoulder.  This is not only hard on your neck but also on your jaw.  See how they’re connected?

While mouth guards and medication work for some the key to getting out of jaw pain and staying out of jaw pain is a systematic approach that involves changing the movement patterns that lead to the pain in the first place.  With consistency and persistence you will be enjoying your favorite foods again, without the pain.

Bon Appetit

Julia

The Keys to Ending Temporomandibular Joint (jaw) Pain

If you suffer from the following symptoms, there is help for you to get relief and prevent symptoms from recurring.

  • Pain in the temporomandibular joint (jaw)
  • Locking episodes or getting stuck opened or closed
  • Limited range in opening your mouth
  • Facial pain or facial muscle fatigue
  • Noises in the jaw like clicking, snapping, or popping
  • Frequent headaches or neck pain
  • Pain, ringing or stuffiness in the ears
  • Tingling in the face
  • A feeling of altered alignment in your jaw.
Anatomy of the TMJ

Anatomy of the TMJ

Your dentist can evaluate the alignment of your teeth and jaw and provide splinting to improve your jaw alignment and give relief. The next step is to find other treatments to further relieve pain, promote healing and to make permanent changes in the movement patterns that created the pain in the first place.  In order to do this, it helps to understand the anatomy or structures of this joint.

The TMJ is a synovial joint formed by the condyle of the mandible (the knob portion at the top of the jaw) the articular eminence of the temporal bone  (the part of the joint that is concave) and the articular disc that is interposed between the two and divides it into two parts.  The muscles of the joint are labeled in the picture on the left.  The temporalis and the masseter close the jaw and clench the teeth, the temporalis also pulls the mandible back.  The medial and lateral pterygoids located on either side of the joint and are deeper, smaller and closely attached, assist with rotary motions.  Strain,  increased muscle tension and trigger points in these muscles create the painful symptoms and can lead to faulty joint mechanics and degeneration of the joint.  The disc normally glides forward with the condyle when you open your mouth.  If the joint is not well aligned and the muscles do not function in sync, the connective tissues break down, the disc can be pushed too far forward creating further stress on the connective tissues of the disc and degeneration of the disc and its connective tissues and degeneration and malfunction of the joint ensues.

Treatment

In order to successfully treat the TMJ it is necessary to address what is causing the pain and to prevent further degeneration of the joint.  If you already have arthritis or degeneration of this joint, relief is still in sight.

Start with pain relief:   Microcurrent electrotherapy is milder and safer than standard electrotherapy and has been successful in treating facial pain.  Manual therapy, both joint mobilization and myofascial release and trigger point therapy start the process of improving joint function and help to relieve pain.  You can learn how to do some techniques on your own to speed the process and get relief when your not at therapy.

Treat the cause and prevent further damage:  Movement patterns in other regions such as the cervical and thoracic spine, shoulder girdles, even lumbar spine and pelvis need to be addressed because of their importance in the postural control of the head, jaw and neck.

  • The head is heavy and must sit on the spine in a way which allows the jaw to work properly
  • The relationship of the head to the neck and spine is altered in nearly all patients with TMJ disorder

Any deviation in the head and spine places an excessive strain on the entire musculoskeletal system, including the muscles and joints of the TMJ.

TMJ relief is the result of improving key relationships within the head and neck and optimizing the function of the jaw as it relates to the rest of the upper body.  Movement and structural integration involves the whole body, the goal being to optimize key relationships and prevent your jaw from being injured again.  Myofascial release and simple, gentle movements reorganize posture, allow flexibility, increase strength and coordination, and in doing so relieve TMJ pain.  Body awareness and movement together integrate mind and body, harnessing the power of our brain plasticity (adaptability) to  help the body function more efficiently.  More efficient use of self creates environments within which chronic pain and injuries can heal.

Thanks for reading my blog,  I am interested in your feedback.  If you feel so inclined, please leave a comment.

 

 

 

Services

Your first visit will consist of an evaluation of posture, movement, myofascial length, muscle strength and joint range of motion to determine patterns of strain or weakness. I will create an exercise program designed to meet your individual needs and goals.

Depending on your needs and goals you may continue exercise with your personal trainer with input from your exam, if you already are working with one, or sessions will continue with me as your therapist.

Hellerwork | Structural Integration

Hellerwork is a unique and powerful combination of deep-tissue structural integration bodywork, movement education and dialogue. This 11 section series transforms your relationship with your body and with your experience of being alive.

BODYWORK

The bodywork is a systematic ‘hands on’ process working with the connective tissue to realign the entire musculo-skeletal structure, restoring balance and ease to the body.

DIALOGUE

The dialogue process leads you to explore how your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and feelings impact in and through your body, empowering you to take the results out into your life.

I invite you to begin the transformation of your body and your life through the dynamic experience of Hellerwork Structural Integration.

  • fuller and easier breathing
  • improved postural alignment
  • increased length and ease in the body
  • freedom from chronic pain and injuries
  • enhanced flexibility in movement
  • reduced stress and tension
  • expanded energy, vitality & aliveness

People who have experienced structural integration report:

  • Increased flexibility and coordination
  • Improved postural alignment
  • Relief from chronic pain
  • Released stored emotional and physical trauma
  • Increased overall energy and stamina
  • Heightened body awareness
  • Improved athletic performance

Structural Integration works on the physical body. It can manifest in other areas of life, including the emotional, mental, creative, and spiritual.

Movement Improvement

The movement education process guides you to move in ways that minimize effort and tension while maintaining and improving the bodywork results.

Movement Improvement Classes

Through movement lessons that borrow from integrative movement systems such as yoga, tai chi and Feldenkrais. Taught by Julia Anderson, MPT, CHP, specializing in orthopedic movement.

Whether you are an athlete, performer, heavy laborer or housekeeper, joint instability can be a painful problem that interferes with your everyday and recreational activities .

If you have repetitive stress, joint instability such as ankle sprains, knee pain or tracking dysfunction, hip instability, low back pain, sciatic pain, neck pain, shoulder impingement, tendonitis etc. the likely cause and therefore the likely solution lies in movement patterns. I frequently hear people say they just need to be stronger, or strengthen their core, or “this runs in my family”. (I guess if your family runs with the same pattern you do, then it would). The truth is most people are walking around without really knowing where they are. Moshe Feldenkrais (the original movement guru) was known to say “when you know what you are doing you can do what you want”, the flip side of that is “when you don’t know what you are doing, you are doomed to repeat what you have always done” –Gordon Browne (modern movement guru).

The movement improvement class uses tools you already have and teaches you to teach yourself how to move your body in ways that are more efficient, less stressful to your joints and will build strength and agility. Through self-awareness skills such as position sense, direction and velocity of movement, muscle effort and relationships between body parts you can learn:

Where is spinal neutral and how do I know how to get there? Which shoulder is elevated and what does that have to do with my pelvic and torso imbalances? Which muscles do they mean when they say to lift with your legs?

By and large, people don’t “know where they are”, and we can equip ourselves with the skills necessary to better listen to our bodies and stay out of pain.

Interested in the Next Class?

Call Julia at 425.443.7582 or fill out the contact form

Kinesio Taping®

The Kinesio Taping® Method is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting. Latex-free and wearable for days at a time, Kinesio® Tex Tape is safe for populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and successfully treats a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and other medical conditions. The Kinesio® Taping Method is a therapeutic taping technique not only offering your patient the support they are looking for, but also rehabilitating the affected condition as well. By targeting different receptors within the somatosensory system, Kinesio® Tex Tape alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas.

Based upon years of clinical use, Kinesio® Tex Tape is specifically applied to the patient based upon their needs after evaluation. The findings of the clinical evaluation or assessment dictate the specifics of the Kinesio® Tex Tape application and other possible treatments or modalities. With the utilization of single “I” strips or modifications in the shape of an “X”, “Y” or other specialized shapes as well as the direction and amount of stretch placed on the tape at time of application, Kinesio® Tex Tape can be applied in hundreds of ways and has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, enhance performance, prevent injury and promote good circulation and healing, and assist in returning the body to homeostasis.

The Kinesio Benefit

Evaluation and assessment are key in the treatment of any clinical condition. In order to get the desired results from a Kinesio Tex Tape application as well as any other treatment, a full assessment is necessary. In some cases, the treatment of a condition may require treatment of other underlying conditions as well. This assessment should include manual muscle testing, range of motion testing, gait assessment, and any other orthopedic special tests. The information gained from these assessments will allow for the proper treatment protocol to be laid out. Kinesio Tex Tape can be a valuable addition to this protocol. It has been proven to have positive physiological effects on the skin, lymphatic and circulatory system, fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. It can be used in conjunction with a multitude of other treatments and modalities within your clinic and is effective during the rehabilitative and chronic phases on an injury as well as being used for preventative measures.

I must confess the description above is taken directly from the product website. To see a video about the technique click on image below that will take you to the their website.
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HIST

(High Intensity Strength Training) may not be for everyone. It requires focus and determination, but its safety lies in the fact that you have safer positioning in the machines, the slow movements insure joint protection and injury prevention and a knowledgeable “coach”.

Dr. McDuff the author of “Body by Science” the research basis for the program I will be using. For more information see his website by clicking on the picture.

High intensity strength training is the safest and most effective exercise protocol for improving:

  • resting metabolic rate
  • glucose metabolism
  • insulin sensitivity
  • body composition
  • cholesterol levels
  • blood pressure
  • bone mineral density
  • symptoms of arthritis
  • lower-back pain
  • and enhancing flexibility

By using a proper science-based approach to exercise you can be on your way to achieving the following in as little as 12 minutes a week:

  • Build muscle size and strength
  • Optimize cardiovascular health
  • Ramp up your metabolism
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Improve flexibility
  • Manage arthritis and chronic back pain
  • Build bone density
  • Reduce your risk for diabetes, cancer, heart attack, and more

Other Physical Therapy Modalities

After all I am still a physical therapist. Other treatments you may receive with your care include but are not limited to:

Microcurrent electrical stimulation:
Unlike more common forms of ES (electrical stimulation) microcurrent is nearly unpreceptible, so no tingling discomfort during treatment. The benefits include, decreased pain, decreased swelling, increased rate of healing.

Biomat (trademark) infrared heating mat:
Safer than standard hotpacks, or typical electrical heat, penetrates deeper and more gently to give a more comfortable relaxing heat during your treatment.