Managing Temporomandibular Joint Disorder By The Integrative Healthcare Team

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain can be incredibly debilitating as they’re the joints responsible for the opening, closing, and movements of your jaw.

From chewing, yawning, talking, and teeth grinding there are endless stresses we put on our jaw that can result in pain and other issues.

TMD (temporomandibular disorders) are typically diagnosed by your doctor or dentist when the pain and dysfunction you experience are considered chronic.

TMD can result from injury, teeth grinding and clenching (especially in your sleep), arthritis, muscle tension and structural issues.

If you’re having difficulty with jaw movements or experiencing jaw pain be sure to check with your doctor or dentist – you may be experiencing TMD.

While TMD can cause periods of extreme pain, and issues with day-to-day things such as eating and sleeping, people with TMD typically recover quickly and can manage their TMD long-term on their own with proper care.

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Here are some ways you can manage your TMD with the help of your integrative healthcare team!

Incorporate Stress Management Techniques

For a lot of people, TMJ pain can come after periods of high stress or anxiety.

This is often because we have a tendency to clench or grind out teeth more, especially when sleeping, when we are experiencing stress.

That grinding movement combined with the pressure of clenching our teeth can put significant stress on our joints, resulting in TMJ pain and TMD. 

If you’re someone who experiences TMJ pain during periods of stress, consider incorporating stress management techniques into your routine – yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and exercise can all help keep your stress levels low and your TMJ at bay! Additionally, the support of a therapist can help you if you’re experiencing a period of chronic stress, or are having difficulty managing your anxiety. 

If you find yourself struggling with teeth grinding and clenching at night even after incorporating stress management techniques, be sure to speak with your dentist, they may recommend a night guard to protect your teeth and jaw. 

Adjust Your Diet

If you’re currently dealing with TMD, resting your jaw is important.

This means limiting any aggravating movements including chewing motions.

Try your best to avoid overly chewy, crunchy or hard foods, and opt for soft foods like mashed potatoes, applesauce and soups and cut your foods into smaller, more manageable pieces.

If you find yourself needing to adjust your diet more long-term if you experience chronic TMD or TMD caused by injury, make sure you consult a dietician to help you create an individualized plan for your circumstances. 

Get a Massage

Tight muscles in the neck and jaw can contribute to TMJ pain and TMD and is especially common when we’re under a lot of stress.

If you find that your pain isn’t responding to other treatments, or you know that you experience muscle tension in your neck and jaw, consider scheduling a regular massage with an RMT like the ones at KinFix Health

Not only can massage help you when you’re experiencing a flare up of symptoms, but regular massage can help manage your symptoms long-term.

Many RMTs will also be able to teach you self-massage techniques so you can manage any flare ups or tension at home when you’re between appointments. 

Try Hydrotherapy

TMD can often cause inflammation near the joint – this can even be noticeable with symptoms such as warm skin or swelling of the jaw near the ear.

To manage the inflammation associated with TMD, try hydrotherapy.

If you’re experiencing swelling, or heat near the joint putting ice on it a few times a day for 10-15 minutes can help bring down some of that swelling and help with pain.

Ibuprofen in addition to hydrotherapy can help when there’s a lot of inflammation or you’re in need of additional pain management. 

Alternatively, if you’re feeling more tightness or tension in the area a warm compress can help loosen up the muscles and ease pain.

Everyone responds differently to hydrotherapy so if you don’t find relief from cold, try heat and vice versa. 

Your Chiropractor Can Help!

If you aren’t finding relief from other at-home treatments, consider booking a consultation with Kilian Upper Cervical Chiropractors or your local chiropractor.

Chiropractors can help with more than your back! Depending on your situation, a chiropractor can help with muscle release and joint manipulation to restore movement, they can even prescribe stretches and exercises to help target the muscles most commonly impacted by TMD. 

All in all, TMD can be painful and debilitating, but there are a lot of options out there to help you better manage your pain.

If you’ve been struggling to find the right treatment for you, or your at-home therapies aren’t working, reach out to your integrative healthcare team! Your chiropractor, massage therapist, physiotherapist and more can all provide valuable support, insight and treatments to target your individual needs.