We may not think about our temporomandibular joints (TMJ) a lot or probably not even know where they are, but you’d be surprised to know how much you use them on a daily basis. Our TMJ spring into action whenever we chew, swallow or talk.
As jaw joints are used a lot each day, it can be debilitating when these joints start to give you pain and discomfort. When the connective joint between our upper and lower jaw doesn’t function effectively, it causes painful strain in parts of the face.
Here are some warning signs that you may have a TMJ disorder and what you can do to get it treated.
- Jaw muscles stiffness
- Headaches and migraines
- Clicking noises in your jaw
- Jaw pain
The exact causes of TMJ disorder are hard to determine as it can be caused by a number of reasons. A heavy blow or injury to your jaw may trigger TMJ disorder. It could also be caused by arthritis damage in the joint cartilage. If you feel none of these causes fit your profile, consider looking at lifestyle decisions such as excessive use of chewing gum or grinding your teeth.
Even things we may consider unrelated to our jaw such as stress and anxiety can lead to TMJ disorder. Poor posture is another prime example of this as it’s known to cause TMJ disorders.
It’s important to note TMJ disorders are twice as prevalent in women due to oral contraceptives and estrogen.
Even in cases of mild TMJ disorders, the pain is intense enough for people to seek treatment right away. After initial screening tests like X-ray and CAT scans, your doctor can determine the extent of the disorder and recommend treatment accordingly.
The most effective treatment method for TMJ disorder is specialized physical therapy. Under professional supervision, you undergo manual therapy, learn exercises, and self-massage techniques that restore joint mobility, reduce inflammation leading to pain relief.
Other treatment methods include anti-inflammatory painkillers and icing your jaw if you’re experiencing pain. However, neither of these methods provides long-term pain relief.