TMJ is an acronym for a group of disorders pertaining the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), jaw muscles, face muscles, ligaments and associated structures. The term temporomandibular joint is derived from the temporal bone, the mandible (the lower jaw bone) and the joint that connects the two bones. Patients suffering from TMJ can experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe pain in the jaw and face, limited opening of the jaw, lock jaw, jaw clicking, jaw popping and headaches. The pain involves the chewing muscles and jaw joints. Additionally, pain can be experienced in the area in front of the ear (the pre-auricular area) and around the ear. Most often the pain is muscular in nature and affects the chewing muscles, which include the masseter, the temporalis, and the pterygoid muscles.
Smiling, laughing, talking, chewing — these all are facial movements you make daily with little to no thought. But, if you have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), those simple movements may cause you a lot of pain.
While most TMD symptoms resolve in a few weeks to months, some painful conditions can be aggravated by certain behaviors or harmful habits that strain jaw and neck muscles.
Rest the position of your Jaw
A common practice to help reduce TMJ pain is to try an minimize wide or open jaw movements, such as yawning, yelling and chewing. Aim to relax these muscles as much as possible.
Use a Hot or Cold Compress
Using an Ice Compress can help reduce swelling and pain, while heat can increase blood flow and relax your jaw muscles. Apply a compress to your jaw for 10 to 15 minutes at a time using a light layer such as a wash cloth between the ice or hot compress and your skin. Avoid using an Ice Compress directly on the skin.
Exercise Your Jaw Muscles
Jaw exercises can help increase mobility in your joints. There are three types of jaw exercises that can be used together to relieve pain from TMJ such as stretching, relaxation and strengthening exercise. Contact our Office for a list of these TMJ Stretching Exercises.
When to see a specialist for TMJ Pain in New York City
For some people experiencing pain from TMJ, at-home pain relief exercises may not be enough to properly treat or relieve these symptoms. Dr. Bakhtiari has extensive experience and training in diagnosing and treating TMJ and headaches. He will help you determine whether your headache, jaw and facial pain, is due to a migraine, tension-type headache or due to TMJ.
TMJ Treatment options vary depending on the individual suffering from TMJ and the specifics of their condition. Since TMJ/TMD can affect the musculature, tendons, bones and joint of the jaw, a thorough examination and diagnosis is paramount prior to initiating any treatment. Treatments include therapeutic injections of muscles and the joints, custom fabricated orthotics (also called splints, mouth guards, nightguards or occlusal guards), medications, creams, botox©, jaw stretching exercises, and physical therapy.