Research indicates that as many as 10 million Americans can be affected by TMJ disorder. The condition is more common in women than men. But what is TMJ, and how can it be prevented.  

What Is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome? 

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to the skull. There is one joint present on either side of your head in front of your ears allowing you to open your jaw while eating and talking. 

TMJ disorder is a type of temporomandibular disorder that can cause pain in your jaw joint. Pain is also present in the muscles responsible for controlling your jaw movement. This disorder causes tenderness in your jaw and makes it difficult to move the joint. 

a woman suffering from tmj

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

The TMJ disorder is treatable, but there are different possible causes, making the diagnosis difficult. One prominent reason is trauma to the joint or jaw. Other health conditions that can cause this disorder include: 

  • Joint erosion 
  • Grinding the teeth (bruxism) 
  • Arthritis 
  • Structural jaw problems which are present since birth 
  • A jaw injury 

Some other factors are often associated with the development of TMJ disorder but are not yet proven, which include: 

  • High-stress levels 
  • A poor posture that can strain face and neck muscles
  • Use of orthodontic braces 
  • Poor diet 
  • Lack of sleep 

What Are The Symptoms Of TMJ? 

The symptoms you experience depends on the cause of your condition and severity. One of the common symptoms you can experience is a pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles. Other symptoms associated with this disorder are: 

  • Stiff jaw muscles
  • Pain felt in the face or the neck 
  • Locking of jaw, making it difficult to close or open mouth 
  • Limited movement of the jaw 
  • Pain in and around the ear 
  • Difficulty in chewing food 
  • Facial pain 
  • An ache in the temporomandibular joint 
  • Popping or clicking sound from TMJ area 
  • A shift in the jaw or change in the alignment of the lower and upper teeth (malocclusion) 

You can experience symptoms of the disorder on one or both sides of the face.  

Diagnosis of TMJ 

Since there are no standard tests available, TMJ can be difficult to diagnose. Your doctor may examine your jaw and check to see if there is a swelling or tenderness. They may also use different imaging tests like: 

  • Dental X Rays 
  • The doctor can conduct a CT scan of the jaw to observe the joint and bone tissues. 
  • MRI scan of the jaw to check problems with the structure of the jaw 
  • TMJ arthroscopy  

How does massage help? 

TMJ disorder is treatable, and symptoms can go away without treatment through self-care practices. However, if the symptoms persist, there are a variety of treatments available.

 Aside from surgical and medication, physical therapies and massages can help ease the pain of TMJ effectively.  

Massage therapy can offer some relief if you are suffering from TMJ disorder. Using massaging techniques on muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint may lessen the pain and ease the symptoms. 

Massage therapies are one of the most effective strategies for controlling and relieving pain around the temporomandibular joint. 

There are three types of massages that can help to lessen the pain of TMJ symptoms. 

  1. Kneading Massage – A TMJ kneading massage offers circular motion against the muscles and jaws. The massage focuses on the masseter muscles in your lower jaw. 
  2. TMJ Friction Massage – The TMJ friction massage is performed on the mandible muscle where gentle yet constant pressure is applied. 
  3. TMJ Stretching Massage – The TMJ Stretching Massage provides relief and exercises the muscles responsible for TMJ disorders.  

Your doctor or physical therapist will help demonstrate how you can use these massages to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles and relieve pain. 

Final Thoughts 

You can successfully treat TMJ disorders without surgery or medication. TMJ massages can help relieve symptoms and lessen the pain. 

Over time, these massages can be beneficial and strengthen your jaw as well. However, do not attempt to massage your jaw if you experience severe pain due to TMJ disorder. If the pain persists, you may need to visit your doctor.

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