Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can cause chronic pain and decrease quality of life by making eating, talking, and sleeping difficult.
TMJ disorders or TMD can cause pain in the head, ear, and jaw and may result in limited jaw movement or locking of the joint. This common disorder can affect anyone and may also cause popping, grinding, or clicking noises upon opening or closing of the jaw.
If you are encountering these symptoms, there are some steps you can take at home to reduce your suffering.
1. Hot and cold therapy
As with any joint or muscular pain, applying either heat or cold packs to the affected joint may provide relief. Cold can reduce swelling that may be causing discomfort and locking and will also numb the joint, while heat can soothe and relax the area and increase blood circulation to assist with healing.
2. A soft or blended diet
Eating soft foods can provide some relief especially when you are noticing a flare-up in pain and clicking. Excessive chewing may exacerbate the issue so it is often best to avoid chewy, crunchy, or hard foods. Take smaller bites to prevent hyperextension of the jaw and try eating more soups, smoothies, pasta, and other soft foods.
3. Over-the-counter pain relievers
While not a permanent solution, anti-inflammatory analgesics such as Ibuprofen may provide you with temporary relief. These medications will block the pain and also assist with the reduction of swelling in the joint and muscles around your jaw so you can begin to heal.
Applying gentle pressure to the jaw is a good way to relax tight, cramping, achy muscles and promote blood flow to the damaged tissues. Try massaging the painful areas with light pressure on both the opened and unopened jaw, as well as the surrounding muscles such as the neck to reduce excess strain.
5. Wear a mouthguard at night
TMD may be caused or made worse by grinding of the teeth at night during sleep. You may not even be aware that you are doing this. Wearing an inexpensive mouth guard from a sport store or pharmacy can stop grinding and save your teeth as well as your jaw.
6. Basic lifestyle changes
It is important to look at your lifestyle and see what habits may be contributing to your symptoms. Aside from hard foods, TMD can also be made worse by chewing gum, sleeping on your stomach, stress (jaw clenching), nervous habits like fingernail or pencil chewing, and even yawning. Take care to notice and avoid these habits as much as possible or find alternatives.
Contact AZ-TMJ Today
If you are experiencing the symptoms of TMD and not finding relief at home it may be time to seek help. AZ TMJ provides diagnostic services, splinting, injections, and physical therapy which may be just what you need to finally get relief from your TMJ disorder. Call Dr. Farrell for a consultation at 480-945-3629 today.