The Pain & Injury Doctor ONLINE Newsletter

Here is your latest pain relief tip. If it doesn’t apply to you, still take note because life is full of surprises. If you know someone who is dealing with this type of pain, please forward this email to that person– thanks!

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

What is Happening:

First and foremost, the term “TMJ” is often incorrectly used to describe pain in the jaw. The TMJ is the temporo-mandibular joint, where the the lower (movable part) of the jaw attaches to the skull on two sides. So, technically everyone has two TMJs. From this point on, I will refer to the condidtion as “TMJ disorder.”

TMJ disorder sufferers feel pain usually on just one side of the jaw. The pain is much worse when moving the jaw and chewing food, and clicking sounds are often heard. Sometimes it hurts just to open your mouth. Since there is a high density of sensory nerves around the TMJ, additional problems like facial pain and headaches often accompany TMJ disorders.

TMJ disorders can be caused by:

– grinding ones teeth at night (bruxism) which places repeated pressure on the TMJ
– a misaligned mandible that developed from malocclusion (when your upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly when contacting)
– having a habit of cracking one’s jaw
– habit of eating hard food using one side of your jaw (jaw breaker candy, etc.)
– a whiplash car accident strong enough to cause the mandible to hyperextend
– direct trauma to the joint (boxing, sports injury, fall, etc.)

Like how a misaligned wheelbase in a car causes the the tire to wear out unevenly, a misaligned jaw will cause the TMJ to wear out and lose its normal movement.

The pain from TMJ disorder signifies mechanical dysfunction within the joint, usually caused by a herniation (slippage) of a thin piece of tissue called the articular disc. Normally, this small disc cushions where the mandible contacts the skull so if it out of position, it causes the joint to move improperly leading to straining of ligaments and tissues.   The clicking sound that often accompanies TMJ disorder is thought to be the sound of the articular disc shifting around.

Recommended Home-Therapy Products Covered in Today’s Issue:

 

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Self Treatment for TMJ

A common prescription for TMJ is wearing a night splint to lessen the effects of teeth grinding:

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Dental Bite Splint

Patented slim design, easiest to wear night guard without feeling bulky, specially designed against teeth grinding & TMJ. Relaxes jaw muscles and alleviates all the problems that teeth grinding may cause to body systems, such as: facial muscle pain, spasms, neck and joint pain, insomnia, shoulder pain and headache.

More Information…

Check to see if your jaw deviates to one side: look at a mirror and slowly open and close your jaw three times. Does it deviate to the left or right? If so, is it the same side of your jaw pain? If so, passive mobilization (slow stretching using your hands) may be able to correct it.

While sitting, gently place your hands on both sides of your face (the “Home Alone” position), thumbs curled behind the angle of your jaws, index fingers directly over the side of your jaw, fingertips over TMJ. Flex your thumbs, gently tractioning your jaw forward slowly; repeat 3x. Then, gently and alternately press your index fingers into your mandible, moving it side to side about ten times to each side, alternating.

Now, traction the fixated, painful side: with hands still on your face, gently pull the fixated side by sliding your hand down the side of your face, pressing in with a little force. The friction between your palm and skin of face is enough tractioning force for this purpose. Re-check your jaw movement in the mirror to see if your jaw opens and closes without deviating. Repeat exercise as needed.

To reduce inflammation and pain, I recommend using the TendLite red light therapy device. Apply three minute doses to each TMJ, with your mouth slightly open to expose the internal surfaces of the TMJ:

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Red Light Therapy

Studies show that red light has therapeutic effects on human tissue, similar to how sunlight stimulates plants to produce energy (sugar) in their leaves. Red light in the 650-750 nm wavelength stimulates cells to increase ATP (energy) production, which enhances tissue repair and regeneration, and reduces inflammation.

The TendLite device emits focused, healing red light in one-minute doses. Apply to your TMJ with your jaw slightly open so that light gets absorbed by the internal soft tissue structures.

More Information…

Since the TMJ is a superficial joint (close to the surface of the skin), topical analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents can get to the problem area fast. I recommend Penetrex OR comfrey root salve. After red light therapy when there is more circulation in the joint, gently rub the agent into the TMJ. Be careful not to do it too hard, as you might aggravate it.

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Penetrex

Penetrex is a best-selling topical pain relieving cream that delivers Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine, Arnica, MSM, Cetyl Myristoleate, Glucosamine, Boswellia Serrata and other proven pain relief elements deep into muscles, nerves, ligaments & tendons. The resulting relief is quick, strong & long lasting. Apply it to your TMJ before or after red light therapy.

More Information…

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Comfrey Root Salve

Dr. Theiss comfrey root ointment gives remarkable results for minor sprains and strains. Comfrey root extract contains a natural substance called allantoin, which hydrates cells, helps remove dead cells and facilitates cellular regeneration in injured tissue. Great for ligament, tendon and muscle sprains and strains including TMJ pain. Do not take internally or on open wounds, as high concentrations are toxic to the liver.

More Information…

Optionally, use a myofascial instrument to massage small muscles around the TMJ. This could soften scar tissue and improve joint movement.

Watch this video where I show you treatment protocols I use for TMJ Disorder that references these therapeutic products:

Before you go to sleep, put in your dental splint and rub some Marjoram or Chamomile essential oils over your TMJ and behind your ear as well. These essential oils are known to decrease inflammation and pain, and have a sedative effect:

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Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil

Sweet marjoram has known sedative properties. Helps to relieve muscle pain and spasms, stiffness, rheumatism, osteoarthritis and migraines.

More Information…

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Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile is well known for its effective anti-inflammatory properties. Helps to relieve muscle pain and spasms, low back pain, headaches and pain caused by PMS. Avían? Botanicals chamomile oil is an extract of the leaves and flowers of the Chamaemelum nobile by steam distillation and is therapeutic grade.

More Information…

Lastly, if your TMJ disorder is due to grinding your teeth at night, realize that it could be a sign of stress or anxiety.  If there are things in your life causing you stress, address them and do your best to reduce them. Exercise, meditation, massage, essential oils, laughing and socializing with a positive group of people (and avoiding negative energy people) are great stress reducers.


BOTTOM LINE:  TMJ disorder can be effectively managed by taking steps to re-align the mandible using the gentle stretching and jaw exercises described in this issue and using red light therapy in combination with topical anti-inflammatory products like Penetrex and comfrey root salve. Rubbing essential oils over your TMJ can be helpful as well.

These are some of the products I recommend to my patients who suffer from TMJ Disorder.  They are generally safe to use, but check with your doctor. ~Dr. Perez

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NEXT UP: Lumbar Muscle Pain & Spasm

PainandInjuryDoctor.com


The information contained in this email and on www.PainandInjuryDoctor.com is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as a medical directive. It is provided as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dan Perez, D.C. Every person is unique, and individual cases of pain are therefore unique. Dr. Perez encourages readers of PainandInjuryDoctor.com to use available sources of information to help them make a more educated and informed decision regarding their health, in partnership with one or more qualified health care professionals.

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