Understand that TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) pain and associated problems make it difficult if not impossible to identify the exact nature of the cause of the problem. Holistic Specifics has approached TMJ with the attitude that we cannot fix everyone, but we can contribute greatly in the wellbeing and recovery of the many who are now suffering.
As has been known for over 3000 years, tight, spasmed muscles have pain associated with TMJ. Tight muscles hurt. Through the use of Therapeutic Massage, we can address this tension and many times relieve it entirely. This soreness, or pain in many cases, is not readily acknowledged by the conscious mind, but is registered and controlled by the sub-conscious mind. In other words, we have developed habits (both good and bad) to deal with the discomfort.
The muscle tightness we are talking about would be in, or associated with, those muscles that control chewing, speech, facial expression and swallowing. These muscles are affected by being over-used when grinding the teeth at night. They may be affected by your bite being mis-aligned. The muscles may have been traumatized during an accident, or when being slapped or struck on the side of the head. A disease such as arthritis may have set in, which complicates the issue. Some clinicians believe strongly that oral habits such as tongue thrusting, wide yawning, and nail, lip, or cheek biting, can precipitate a situation that puts the jaw in an abnormal position and may weaken or overstress the muscles. This continuous stress can result in tight and spasmed muscles.
More females are prone to TMJ than are men, and a greater prevalence of women in their childbearing years suffer from TMJ. This may indicate a serious possibility of a need for better nutrition during those times when a woman is eating for two.
Studies suggest that women on hormone replacement therapy were 77% more likely to seek help for TMJ as are women who are using oral contraceptives (19%). The downsides of the hormone estrogen is becoming more clear as more studies are being done.
Work habits and posture, things that we do every day, are done without thinking. Those habits that affect the muscles of the jaw or those of the neck, head or even shoulders, may reflect into the jaw muscles. Habits such as cradling a telephone between your ear and shoulder, carrying a heavy shoulder bag, singing, anything that promotes a forward head position, or hunching forward can contribute to tension throughout the body, as well as spasmed muscles.
Symptoms associated with TMJ disorders may be:
- Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
- Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Dull, aching pain in the face
- Earache (particularly in the morning)
- Headache (particularly in the morning)
- Hearing loss
- Migraine (particularly in the morning)
- Jaw pain or tenderness of the jaw
- Reduced ability to open or close the mouth
- Neck and shoulder pain