Alright so I'm pretty sure that I have TMJ. I haven't been told that I do but my aunt who is a nurse said that it sounds like I do. My jaw locks up and causes severe pain. To the point where I can't even chew my food at all and it hurts to even talk. I have been experiencing my jaw clicking and popping for a few years now. But because I have no insurance I can't afford to go to a doctor or dentist to find out a relief for it. So I'm trying to find a non-costly way to help me relieve some of my pain. Does anybody have any ideas? Please help me.
TMJ disorders are hard to treat because they are not well understood. I know this from my personaly experience. Even if you have insurance, most companies will not pay for treatment. The best treatment in most cases is to relieve stress on your joints and muscles. When you are in pain, eat soft food only. You can cut it up finely or ever puree it. Do not chew gum. Try applying heat to your jaw for 15 minutes. Heat on your neck and shoulders can also help relieve tension in your upper body. Also, pay attention to your posture. If you do a lot of heavy lifting, try to do less. When you are sitting, eating, driving, etc., keep your head up straight and don't extend your neck forward. You can also try this exercise: Put your thumb under your chin with just enough pressure to give a little resistance as you open your mouth sligtly (just enough to open it). Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat as much as is comfortable. Also, practice opening your mouth slightly and just letting your jaw relax. When your doing activities, pay attention and make sure your jaw is relaxed as you are moving. Do your clench your teeth in your sleep? If so, a night guard made by a dentist can help with this. You can also try a much cheaper athletic mouthguard from WalMart, etc. If you need dental work, make sure you have support under your neck and that you don't open your mouth too wide for too long. Most TMJ problems fix themselves with time. There is good info. on the TMJ Association's website also. If you seek professional help, I have found wonderful expertise from a dentist with training in neuromusclar dentistry and would highly recommend someone with this training. Also, there are many books available from public libraries on dealing with chronic pain. You can learn relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, meditation, etc. that can help you cope. Good luck!
I agree, there's a million little things you can do to help ease the pain, but since you're always using/moving your jaw, it takes soooo long to heal. I've had tmj for 2.5 years and i'm still trying to figure it out. You just have to find out what works best for you.
I have tmj from a car accident that displaced my disc and disrupted both sides. I've learned so far with trial and error that good posture, sleeping only on my side with my jaw supported on my pillow, weightlifting and doing exercises to keep my upper back/neck/shoulders strong, and basically any exercise that is good for you... yoga... it all helps. I wore an appliance and it helped for a while until my jaw became tolerable, then i stopped wearing it because at the same time, it was agitating my jaw muscles.
For months after the accident, i couldn't talk, chew, open my mouth, brush my teeth... nothing without horrible pain. With exercises, a soft diet, wearing the appliance, and months of PT with the electric shocks and all that--that's when I started to feel better.
I've heard mixed reviews about the mouth guards at stores, there's so many kinds of splints and appliances out there now... but i guess if you try it and it helps, then that's all you need.
One massage technique i found that helps is if your tmj flares up, rub your temples in the direction from your face to the back of your head (not in a circular motion, just front to back). your joint muscles run all up and down your face, and this area, if rubbed, helps ease the tension.
Thanks for the massage tip, sistermimi. I'll try that one. Interesting coincidence, my TMJ problems have also been with me for 2.5 years. It does get a lot better, but like you said, it takes a long time, and there's always more to figure out!