What Is TMJ and How Can You Treat It

1 out of every 12 people in the United States is currently affected by a TMJ disorder. That means that 12% of the population suffers which equals about 35 million people. 

Your temporomandibular joint is an essential part of your everyday life. It is a complex hinge joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It is responsible for:

  • Eating
  • Speaking
  • Chewing

If you have a TMJ disorder, this joint is inflamed and often causes a lot of pain. The pain is debilitating and can often be present in the joints, neck and ear area. When it gets worse, you battle to open your mouth and this will affect your lifestyle. 

Today, we will share with you TMJ symptoms, how you can treat the disorder and what can happen if the disorder goes untreated. 

TMJ symptoms 

Signs and symptoms of TMJ can include but not limited to:

  • Aching facial pain and neck pain
  • Pain or tenderness of your jaw
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Pain in and around your ear,
  • Difficulty chewing or pain whilst you chew
  • Locking of the joint- this makes it difficult for you to open and close your mouth 
  • Headaches 
  • Clicking, grating or popping sounds in the jaw when you open and close your mouth 

What causes TMJ?

There are a few things that can cause TMJ. The joint is covered with cartilage and they are separated by a small shock-absorbing disk. This helps keeps the movement in your jaw smooth. Inflammation and injury can cause discomfort to the joint. Other causes include:

  • The joint’s cartilage is damaged by arthritis
  • Joint damage from an injury 
  • Stress and overusing the joint
  • Disk erodes or moves out of alignment 

How can you treat TMJ

Only about 50-60% of people who suffer will seek treatment. Those who do not, continue to live with painful side effects. It is estimated that those who do not treat the disorder, will develop a chronic TMJ disorder. 

Here are some natural ways in which you can help reduce the symptoms of TMJ.

  1. Avoid overuse of the jaw muscles. This will help the joint and muscles rest and recover. 
  2. Eat soft foods and stay hydrated. 
  3. Stretch the muscle and massage can help. A trained professional like a physiotherapist can show you exercises.
  4. Internet between heat and ice. This will help bring down swelling and help increase the healing time. 

A 2010 study shows that TMJ exercises can increase the mouth opening range more than using a mouthguard. 

Conclusion 

In some cases, TMJ disorders can go away on their own. If the symptoms get worse, you should go see a doctor to help relieve the pain and discomfort. 

It is estimated that for every 100 million working adults in the United States, TMJ disorders contribute to 17.8 million lost workdays annually. It is best that you treat your symptoms as soon as possible so that it does not stop you from doing your daily activities like talking to people, eating and drinking. 

To learn more about natural ways to help with your pain, continuing reading the next article: How To Manage Your Chronic Pain Without Popping Pills.