Acute and Chronic TMJ Jaw Pain

TMJ jaw pain can be in the jaw muscles, the jaw joints, or both. Most of it comes from the muscles that move the lower jaw. One of the muscles, the temporalis, spreads out like a fan on the side of the head and reaches downward to grab the lower jaw. Many physicians are not familiar with the temporalis muscle and mistake the pain from this muscle for migraine. Some patients with actually have pain inside the jaw joint itself. If there is discomfort in the jaw joint itself, the joints will hurt when you press directly on them.

This problemcan be devastating. You can't smile, you can't eat, and you can't speak. It's terrible. TMJ jaw pain can start with an accident, a long dental visit, or without any good reason. Acute TMJ jaw pain is when the pain begins suddenly. Chronic TMJ jaw pain is when the pain persists and doesn't go away.

TMJ jaw pain causes the jaw muscles to tighten and hold the jaw in one place to protect it. Unfortunately, the jaw muscles then go into spasm, become inflamed, and cause more TMJ jaw pain. Jaw muscle exercises can be helpful because they bring blood to the tight jaw muscles. Because patients with TMJ jaw pain can't chew easily, many TMJ jaw pain patient do not eat much. This decreases their strength and causes more pain.

Placing moist hot hand towels over both sides of the jaws can help. Fill up a sink with hot water and place the towels in the sink then wring them out. Be sure the water is not hot enough to burn you. After a few minutes, stretch your jaw muscles by opening and closing as wide and you can. The movement and the heat help bring nourishing blood to the jaw muscles and take away the waste products that have built up that cause TMJ jaw pain in the jaw muscles.

Gentle massage can help. Rub the muscles on the outside of your face and then place your thumb or forefinger inside the mouth and the other finger outside the mouth. Gently sweeze the muscles between your two fingers and rub the jaw muscles from inside and outside the mouth.

You can also fill your bathtub up with hot water and immerse yourself almost totally in the hot water so that your entire face is covered. This can often help the patient sleep better. Motrin and Alive are the best over-the-counter analgesics. However, they do not solve the problem of why your jaw muscles are hurting and only mask the signs and symptoms of TMJ.

It is important for patients with TMJ jaw pain to remember to stay healthy and eat properly. There are many causes and that's why it is so difficult for many doctors to diagnose. One cause is a nutritional deficiency in a vitamin, like Vitamin C or Vitamin E. It can even be caused by a mineral deficiency in magnesium , calcium , or any of the other minerals required by your body.

Keep your mind off of your discomfort and on something positive. Don't worry your relatives with your pain. Don't complain; instead, do something about it. Visiting a knowledgeable dentist is essential. The dentist can often make a dental appliance that will help support your jaw without the need for your jaw muscles. He can refer you to a physical therapist trained in treating TMJ jaw pain or to massage therapist who can help you relax your jaw muscles and reduce your TMJ jaw pain.

There is a lot of confusion among patients and dentists about the word TMJ. TMJ stands for TemporoMandibular Joint which is the technical name for your jaw joint. You really can't say that you have TMJ jaw pain. That's saying you have temporomandibular joint pain. If you are experiencing TMJ jaw pain and would like to speak Dr. Leaderman, make a consultation appointment at 413-736-6185.