How to Treat TMJ Symptoms

There are several ways you can minimize the discomfort of TMJ and decrease the occurrences of acute pain.

Self-Administered TMJ Pain Relief

Application of Warm Moist Heat

Moist heat applied to the area around the painful joint and muscles provides quick relief from pain. The following procedure is suggested:

  • Soak a hand towel and wring almost dry. Place in a bowl or other microwave safe dish.
  • Microwave the moist wet towel until very warm, almost hot. Remove towel. Be careful to check the temperature, don't burn yourself.
  • Twist towel until it is a manageable size. Place one end of the warm towel on one side of the jaw or temporal region, running it under the chin and up to the other side of the jaw/temporal region.
  • Place prepared towels on the painful area for 10-20 minutes, two to three times per day. Another procedure is to apply warm moist towels to the affected are several times within an hour.

Heat therapy works indirectly. Pain, especially muscle pain, is often caused by a relative shortage of oxygen in the tissues, which allows the buildup of metabolic waste products like lactic acid. Heat applied to the tissues tends to dilate the blood vessels passing through them. The dilatation increases the blood flow and hence carries more oxygen to the tissues. The oxygen debt is reduced and lactic acid is dispersed and the pain diminishes.

Pain Relief Exercises

  1. Heat: Hold a heating pad, hot washcloth, hot-water bottle, or other heat source to the painful areas of your head or neck. Apply this to head for 5 minutes to relax your muscles for the exercises
  2. Exercises: Do the following for exercise for one minute each- total of 5 minutes
    1. Open-Close: place a closed fist under your chin to resist movement gently. Open and close your mouth 30 times.
    2. Forward-Backward: place a closed fist under your chin to resist movement gently. Move your lower jaw forward and backward 30 times.
    3. Right: place a closed fist under your chin to resist movement gently. Move your jaw to the right and then return your jaw to a relaxed position.
    4. Left: place a closed fist under your chin to resist movement gently. Move your jaw to the left and then return your jaw to a relaxed position 30 times.
    5. Head Turn: (stand or sit very straight)
      Right: Turn your head all the way to the right, and place the palm of your hand on the left side of our jaw. Every two seconds, push your head slightly farther to the right, and then return your head to the original side position. (15 times)
      Left: Turn your head all the way to the left, and place the palm of your hand on the right side of your jaw. Every two seconds push your head slightly farther to the left, and then return your head to the original side position (15 times)
  3. Heat: Apply heat for another five minutes as in Step 1 to relax your muscles.

Foods to avoid if you have Migraine Headaches

  • Wine or any alcoholic beverages
  • Aged cheeses
  • Chinese or Mexican food
  • Coffee, tea or caffeine drinks
  • Chocolate or hot cocoa
  • Herring

Absolute No-No's

  • Bacon and Sausage
  • Steak or Beef Jerky
  • Breakfast bars
  • Popcorn, pretzels or tortilla chips
  • Hard candy or caramels
  • Raw vegetables
  • Raw onions
  • Corn on the cob
  • Green Peppers

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