The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) may not be mentioned in normal conversation, however it is the most common cause of headaches and jaw pain. The TMJ is the joint that allows you to open or close your mouth. Once of the most unique joints in your body, the TMJ allows your jaw to go up, down, forward, backward and side-to-side. Common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are: tension headaches, jaw pain, clicking or popping, muscle spasms, tinnitus (ear ringing), altered bite alignment, pain or pressure behind the eyes.
Treating TMJ pain can be a unique process. Pain in your jaw could be caused in other areas of your body, connected through myofascial. Treating your pain may be trickier than you originally thought.
For some, the pain can go away on its own. Others are often not so lucky and it can last for weeks or months if it goes untreated. There are several ways to both prevent and treat TMJ pain, Craniosacral Therapy being one of them. Here are 5 ways to begin healing your TMJ pain today:
1. Jaw exercises - A recent study found therapeutic jaw exercises can bring on a much swifter recovery of jaw function compared to splints! As a certified physical therapist, I can evaluate your condition and help with appropriate exercises based on your individual needs.
2. Relaxation techniques - If you find yourself in the throes of TMJ pain, try using a hot compress to relax the muscles around your face and along your jaw. Soften the jaw by drawing your tongue to the roof of your mouth (just behind your teeth), inhale through your nose slowly for 8 seconds, and then exhale slowly out of your mouth for 8 seconds.
3. Self release technique - Place your hands over your jaw with the heels of your hands around the jaw bone and the fingertips pointing up just in front of your ears with tips of finders near your temple. Soften and relax allowing your hands to sink into the skin, then gently pull downward and hold for 3 to 5 minutes waiting for a release. You can do this seated with your elbows supported on a table or lying down.
4. Custom-molded bite guard from a dentist - This is applies only to those who wake up with tooth and jaw muscle soreness from clenching or grinding. I would highly recommend that you ask your dentist to create the mold on the bottom jaw vs top jaw/roof of the mouth as this can interfere with the subtle, natural movement of the bones in your skull.
5. Craniosacral therapy - Craniosacral therapy is one of the best treatments around to relieve TMJ pain because it involves very gentle pressure to facilitate realignment of the bones in the head, jaw and face, right where your TMJ pain originates from.
Whether you’re seeking relief from TMJ pain or know someone who is, it’s important that you find someone who has expertise treating this condition. Here at Be Still Physical Therapy, treating TMJ pain is one of our specialities. Be sure to visit http://BeStillPT.com to set up an appointment or contact us if you’d like to hear more about how we can help!