The joint that connects our jaws to our skulls, is known as the Temporomandibular Joint. It is for this joint that we can open our mouths. Have you been experiencing pain in this joint lately? Then chances are, you have been suffering from a condition called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.
In this condition, the joint is either damaged or injured, which gives rise to the pain. Symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw region
- Pain in the temple region
- Ear pain
- Lock in the jaw joint
- Stiff jaw muscle
- Popping sounds in the ear
- Tooth/Teeth injury
- Injury to the jaw
- Chewing gums
- Excessive grinding of teeth
- Misalignment of the jaw
- Tooth/teeth injury
- Poor posture
Ways to relieve TMJ pain
The TMJ Association, Ltd. list 9 ways in which TMJ pain could be dealt with. The following are a collection of the most effective of those that are listed out:
- A moist, warm towel or a heat pack helps in the functioning of the joint and in reducing pain. The idea is to apply any form of moist heat to the area, without burning yourself!
- Slow breathing, meditation, yoga and massages are found to be some of the relaxation techniques that help in reducing the pain. These are found to modulate pain sensations.
- While yawning, prevent your jaw from opening up wide, with the help of your fist. Opening up wide when you have TMJ pain would only cause more damage to the joint.
- Side sleeping can also help the situation. The TMJ Association advises you to sleep with a pillow as a support between your shoulder and neck. The correct posture while sleeping is essential. Putting any strain while being unconscious would only aggravate the pain.
- Gentle jaw exercises help in the mobility of the jaw. This, in turn, helps in quicker healing of the joint. It is advised that you have your condition evaluated by a therapist, and only do the recommended exercises. The TMJ Association cites a research that lists out potential exercises that help in early recovery of jaw function. “…therapeutic exercise has a good prognosis, especially for anterior disc displacement without reduction. Since its effectiveness has not been extensively evaluated, we conducted a comparative study to verify the hypothesis that treatment efficacy would not differ for exercise and occlusal splints.”
- It is also advised that you depend on a soft diet for as long as the pain persists. This is because chewing on hard and crunchy foods would only put more pressure on the joint. This would not do any good the joint’s recovery.
- You may also choose to apply ice packs to the area. It helps in reducing inflammation and relieves pain. However, it is advised that you wrap it in a dry towel instead of applying it directly, and not more than 10-15 minutes at a time.
Acute TMJ aches usually do not last for more than a couple of weeks. If the pain persists for more than a couple of weeks, you may have a chronic case and must not ignore the symptoms. Seek medical help from your doctor right away!