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TMJ Disorders

Pain, Inflammation, Joint disorders, Muscles | May 18, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Inflammation, Pain, Muscles

TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a specialized synovial joint essential for the mobility and function of the jaw. It acts as a sliding hinge, connecting the lower jaw bone to the cranial bone in the skull. TMJ is a term given to a group of disorders that involves issues with the normal musculature and joint functions of the jaw.

In TMJ there are a combination of factors involved such as genetics, jaw injury, joint degeneration, bruxism (teeth grinding) and jaw clenching. In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorders can be relieved by self-care strategies.

The temporomandibular joint

The temporomandibular jointThere are two of these joints, one of each side of your face near your ear.

These joints are important for everyday activities such as chewing, talking and facial expressions.

That is why when there is pain and restriction of movement it can really impact a person’s quality of life.

Symptoms of TMJ

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Jaw pain and tenderness
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Aching pain in the face and around the ear
  • Pain or difficulty while chewing
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Clicking or popping noises when moving the jaw
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headaches

Not all people with TMJ experience any noticeable symptoms. In fact, around 25% of people experience no pain or loss of normal function meaning that their condition is left untreated and slowly worsens over the years. This is why early diagnosis and treatment is important.

What are the causes?

TMJ disorders tend to occur as the joint and cartilage slowly deteriorates. Just like wear and tear to other large joints—this can also occur to smaller joints such as those in the jaw. Some studies have discovered that people with TMJ disorders have higher levels of inflammatory mediators compared to those without the condition. Other causes include joint damage due to a blow or trauma and the jaw moving out of proper alignment.

Natural therapies for TMJ disorders

Glucosamine & Chondroitin

Just like glucosamine and chondroitin can assist with osteoarthritis, they can be of great benefit to people who suffer from TMJ disorders. A 2015 study found that the combination of these two nutrients resulted in improved mouth opening and decreased inflammatory mediators involved in the destruction of the TMJ joint. It was also discovered that pain relief was the same when compared to the control group who took a narcotic analgesic.
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MSM could also be considered as a supplement for its ability to reduce inflammation and aid in joint and tissue repair.
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Omega-3

Natural therapies for TMJ disordersInflammation and pain are two components of TMJ in which people seek assistance with. Omega-3 essential fatty acids can help provide pain relief and reduce joint and muscular inflammation associated with TMJ. Although no studies have been performed on omega-3 in TMJ disorders, they have been proven beneficial in other disorders which involve joint pain and inflammation.
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B vitamins

Nutritional inadequacies are considered crucial perpetuating factors in myofascial pain (chronic muscular facial pain) and dysfunction and commonly occur with sources of mechanical stress. Often referred as the B complex, these vitamins can help in supporting the nervous system during times of stress and are important in treating pain syndromes. One study found that deficiencies in folate, B6, B12, folic acid and vitamin C are common in people who suffer from TMJ disorders.
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Calcium and Magnesium

Both these minerals are essential for proper muscular function and have a calming effect. They aid in stress reduction and allow you to achieve a good night’s sleep. These nutrients may also assist in relaxing the muscles around the jaw, facial pain and preventing bruxism or jaw clenching.

Bite plates

Natural therapies for TMJ disordersOften TMJ is treated with special bite plates worn over the teeth to stabilize the bite and prevent tooth-clenching. These specialised devices may also be referred to as mouthguards or a mouthpiece.
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Jaw exercises

Practicing gentle jaw stretches can help relax the muscles while increasing jaw movement and range of motion.

One study found that jaw exercises performed for several minutes four times daily reduced TMJ symptoms more effectively than jaw splints worn at night. They found that there was a significant improvement in pain and mouth-opening range. Relief was also experienced quicker in the exercise group compared to the splint group.

Chiropractic adjustments may also be helpful for TMJ by alleviating tension and dysfunction of the spine.

Dietary suggestions

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial for TMJ disorders. It involves eating less refined and processed foods and more wholefoods. Foods to include in the diet include those that are high in omega-3 such as fish, seafood, nuts and seeds. Ensure you get plenty of antioxidants and essential minerals by consuming at least 4-6 serves of fresh fruits and vegetable.

Natural therapies for TMJ disordersFoods high in collagen and sulphur are great for joint health and repair and can be found in:

  • organic bone broths
  • garlic
  • asparagus
  • eggs
  • broccoli
  • onions

Give your jaw a break by having soft foods in the diet such as soups, stews and steamed meals. Avoid chewing gum.

Other self-care behaviours that can help to ease the pain associated with TMJ disorders include:

  • Using hot or cold packs on the affected area
  • Facial massage
  • Resting when pain occurs
  • Implementing relaxation techniques

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References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/symptoms-causes/syc-20350941

Damlar I, et al. Effects of glucosamine-chondroitin combination on synovial fluid IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α and PGE2 levels in internal derangements of temporomandibular joint. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2015 May; 20(3): e278–e283

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464914/

Mehra PWolford LM. Serum nutrient deficiencies in the patient with complex temporomandibular joint problems. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2008 Jul;21(3):243-7

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18628971

Riley JL 3rd, et al. Self-care behaviours associated with myofascial temporomandibular disorder pain. J Orofac Pain. 2007 Summer;21(3):194-202

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17717958

Haketa T, et al. Randomized clinical trial of treatment for TMJ disc displacement. J Dent Res. 2010 Nov;89(11):1259-63

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20739691

Pavia S, et al. Chiropractic Treatment of Temporomandibular Dysfunction: A Retrospective Case Series. J Chiropr Med. 2015 Dec;14(4):279-84

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26793040

Goldberg RJKatz J. A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Pain. 2007 May;129(1-2):210-23

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17335973/

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