Updated: Dec 6, 2018
Aside from the low back, TMJ pain can be one of the most intense areas of pain in the whole body. Ask anyone that’s experienced it before, it can be debilitating. TMJ pain relief can be a lifesaver.
The TMJ, or jaw joint, consists of the mandible, or jaw, and it’s connection to the skull at the temporal bones on either side of the head. The jaw bone sits in a disc on either side of the face, and this disc allows the jaw bone to translate forward and down, which is how we open and close our mouths.
Where does the TMJ Pain come from?
Typically TMJ pain is caused by degeneration of the jaw bone itself (at the point where it connects to the skull), a slippage of the jaw bone off of the disc (almost always a slippage posterior), or both. When either or both of these things happen the muscles around the head, neck, and mouth tighten, the upper neck locks up, and there is potential irritation of the sensitive nerves located behind the disc (retro-discal tissue). Pain can arise from one or all of the following: the muscle spasms in the head, neck, and mouth, the upper cervical spine locking up, or the nerve irritation in the retro-discal tissue.
How do I get TMJ pain relief!?
You’ll see a lot of videos and articles written about “one trick to stop TMJ pain”, but don’t get fooled and proceed with extreme caution. Many of these articles and videos are made as click-bait and can make your situation worse, and are written by people with little to no experience diagnosing and treating TMJ pain. Best case they help in the short-term but set you up for another episode further down line. Typically TMJ pain relief can be achieved by seeing a doctor that specializes in TMJ analysis and treatment. Contrary to popular belief, dentists get no training in TMJ other than basic anatomy (the same goes for chiropractors), and they usually get in way over their heads. Seek a professional that has gone through post-graduate training in TMJ analysis and treatment above and beyond the very basic anatomy taught in school. We recommend seeing someone that offers conservative care options first, as these are less expensive and not permanent. This option would include a thorough TMJ and whole body evaluation to determine exactly what’s wrong, as the reasons for TMJ pain listed above typically stem from deeper issues. Leg length, pelvic rotation, SI stability, low back rotation, cervical tension, dural-meningeal torque, cranial faults, and muscle de-activation or over-stimulation should all be evaluated. It’s likely that after addressing the former issues, if relevant to that individual, the TMJ pain relief will come quickly.
Beyond TMJ pain relief
Once the immediate fire has been put out, that’s when a serious conversation about fixing the causes can be had. This might include just musculoskeletal work done by someone with advanced TMJ training, or perhaps a referral or co-management situation with a TMJ focuses dentist or orthodontist (your specific situation should dictate who you need to see, as all TMJ dentists and orthodotists TMJ Pain Relief
have their specialties and areas of strengths and weaknesses).
Don’t get looped into the click-bait online, seek a TMJ specialist that can help you achieve TMJ pain relief in the short-term, but also properly evaluate and manage your case, referring or co-managing with another professional if necessary to actually fix your TMJ issue.
Dr. Scoppa is a TMJ specialist in Bellevue, WA.